Sandvik Osprey - a leader in the production of gas atomised powders for metal injection moulding
Company visit: PIM International, Vol.3 No. 1 March 2009, pages 35-40, 2915 words
Sandvik Osprey’s powders are well known in the metal injection moulding (MIM) industry and the fine spherical powders that are produced by the company’s proprietary gas atomisation technology have made a significant contribution to MIM’s penetration of new markets. Nick Williams, Editor of Powder Injection Moulding International, reports on a recent visit to the company’s powder production facility in Neath, South Wales.
The valleys of South Wales may at first seem an unlikely location for a metal powder production plant. Neath and the surrounding areas have, however, a strong industrial heritage that dates back to the rise of coal mining and copper smelting in the 18th century. Despite the decline of both copper and coal production in South Wales, the nearby University in the city of Swansea developed, and still maintains, a strong reputation for materials engineering.
It was out of Swansea University’s Metallurgy Department that the then post graduate students Dr Alan Leatham, Dr Gwyn Brooks and Jeff Coombs first joined forces. Initially working on a spray-rolling process, tradition tells that the three conceived the idea of the spray-forming process over several beers in a pub. The first patent was applied for in 1972 and the formation of Osprey Metals followed in November 1974 with a view to developing and licensing spray forming technology. The first spray forming patent was granted in 1975....
Further sections of this article include:
- Sandvik Osprey today
- Powder production
- Testing and analysis
- Why gas atomised powders?
- Growth at Sandvik Osprey
- Key markets for MIM
Figures and Tables:
Fig. 1 Preparation of the starting melt prior to atomisation
Fig. 2 An archive photograph of Jeff Coombs (left), Dr Gwyn Brooks (centre) and Dr Alan Leatham (right), founders of Osprey Metals
Fig. 3 Right of this photograph shows the lower section of an atomisation tower at Sandvik Osprey. Left, the cyclone separator can be seen, with a powder collection bin below
Fig. 4 A flow diagram of the powder production process at Sandvik Osprey
Fig. 5 The new gas storage facility at Sandvik Osprey, offering the effective on-tap supply of Nitrogen and Argon
Fig. 6 Upper image: 90% 22ìm 17-4PH powder and lower image: 90% 16ìm 17-4PH powder, produced by Sandvik Osprey
Fig. 7 An Eltra Oxygen Nitrogen analyser at Sandvik Osprey’s testing laboratory
Fig. 8 Powder sales have more than doubled at Sandvik Osprey since 2004
Fig. 9 Gas atomised powders offer improved surface finish on sintered components, state Sandvik Osprey
Fig. 10 Gas atomised powders, state Sandvik Opsrey, benefit not only from reduced surface contamination, but also offer improved contact area during sintering
Fig. 11 Sandvik Osprey’s 80%-5ìm 316L powder (Courtesy I Chang & K Jiang, University of Birmingham, UK)