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Gas Purification in Additive Manufacturing

January 20, 2022 at 1:11 PM

Additive manufacturing

Additive manufacturing is an increasingly viable way to fabricate technically correct products that sufficiently address the mechanical and physical needs of many industries.

Powder Bed Fusion (PBF) is leading the way in metal additive manufacturing. The metal powder production process relies on gases like argon for every step, from inert powder storage to post-processing. PBF uses heat (e.g. a laser) to consolidate material in powder form to build 3-dimensional objects. Parts created via this process can be used in many industries from automotive to aerospace.

The PBF manufacturing process itself is not free of faults. Gas and metal can contaminate the build chamber and result in production problems, including failed builds, high production costs, and powder waste.

PBF manufacturers must adopt technologies that reduce failed builds, lower production costs, and improve process sustainability. Gas purification systems are one way to eliminate common contaminates present in PBF manufacturing, leading to better throughput and reduced costs.

Use of gas is critical to the metal powder manufacturing process, but elevated levels of moisture and oxygen within a printing chamber can cause issues.

Gas must be used in the PBF process. The gas atomization breaks molten metal into small droplets. The droplets coalesce and collect into solid spheres.

Manufacturers typically prefer to use nitrogen or argon for their anti-oxidation properties. The selected gas must meet high quality and purity standards. Contaminated atomizing gas during the build process will result in contaminated powder. Oxygen and moisture are two commonly observed contaminants. Such contaminants can affect production and impact yield quality. In particular, contaminants like moisture and oxygen can result in:

 

  • Increased spatter during production
  • Increased porosity of the final product

 

Typical PBF print chamber atmospheres contain over 1,000pmm ppm of impurities. Controlling the atmosphere within a printing chamber is a top priority. Manufacturers that do not give special attention to this matter will experience production problems.

Gas purification systems can circulate and refine gases within a chamber, purifying the atmosphere during the printing process.

The atmosphere within a build chamber must be sufficiently ‘clean’ to avoid end product problems. A gas purification system can help reduce oxygen and moisture contaminants to levels which do not impact the final part.

An effective gas purification system is capable of:

 

  • Removing impurities from source gas and contaminants introduced by gas lines
  • Maintaining constant pressure in the printing chamber
  • Preventing part deformation
  • Improving product throughput and consistency
  • Ensuring a consistent moisture and oxygen level

 

Gases entering the printing chamber must be free of contaminants that cause production problems. A gas purification system is a must for PBF manufacturers.

Inert provides manufacturers with gas purification systems that eliminate contaminates, improving the production process from beginning to end. Want to learn more? Get in touch today. We can provide a system estimate and set you on a path toward greater printing productivity!