Particle Testing Authority (PTA), a division of Micromeritics Instrument Corporation, headquartered in Norcross, Georgia, USA, reports that it has created a comprehensive physical characterisation service for the Additive Manufacturing industry. The testing service is expected to provide fast and efficient access to the techniques routinely used to optimise process performance and the attributes of finished products.
PTA states that the relevant characteristics of AM powders (including metals, polymers and other materials) include the following:
- Particle size and shape
- Bulk powder flowability
- Surface area and topography
- Environmental stability
According to PTA, it will quantify these characteristics using state-of-the-art instrumentation backed by in-depth materials characterisation knowledge. The resulting service is said to provide remarkable value for AM powder developers, manufacturers and users looking to augment, enhance or replace in-house analytical services with a more effective approach.
“We provide more comprehensive testing for AM powders than many in the industry can sustain in an in-house lab,” commented Greg Thiele, General Manager of PTA. “For example, in addition to high-resolution laser diffraction particle sizing, we offer other techniques such as gravity sedimentation which can help to elucidate particle size distribution, to robustly quantify the fine and coarse fractions that can be crucial to powder performance.”
“We also use the Freeman FT4 Powder Rheometer®, an instrument used by leaders in the industry to sensitively differentiate the bulk flowability of AM powders in a way that correlates directly with printing performance,” Thiele added.
The properties that PTA measures in AM powders influence or quantify how they will flow, pack and respond to the thermal energy used in AM. These are the characteristics that define processability, whether a powder can be processed by AM and the throughput that can be achieved, and critical attributes of the finished product, such as resolution, strength and porosity. The resulting data support the development of new powders for specific AM systems, the effective differentiation of supplies, powder choice for a new application and the evolution of effective powder management and recycling strategies.
“Powder-based AM processes are exacting, and competing effectively relies on the application of a fairly extensive analytical toolkit,” Thiele continued. “We’re delighted to be able to offer access to all the instrumentation required along with the know-how required to generate relevant data of exemplary quality. Buying analytical services can be extremely cost-effective when costs are robustly assessed against the expense of maintaining a full in-house capability, or worse, not being able to reliably predict or elucidate AM powder performance.”