LPW Technology Invests in FT4 Powder Rheometer to Optimise Metal Powders for Additive Manufacture
1 Miller Court, Severn Drive
Gloucestershire, GL20 8DN
Press release date: December 27, 2013
Tewkesbury, UK: LPW Technology, a leading supplier of optimised metal powders for high end additive manufacturing (AM) applications, is using the FT4 Powder Rheometer® from Freeman Technology to research new powders and exert control over product performance. LPW Technology develops and supplies customised metal powders for high performance, functional component manufacture, supplying, amongst others, the automotive, aerospace and biomedical industries. Comprehensive powder testing using the FT4 Powder Rheometer provides the information needed to engineer powder behaviour for specific AM processes and applications and to ensure a consistent quality product.
“Powder testing is a critical part of what we do, both in the development of new powders and as a service for customers looking to optimise existing AM processes,” explains Dr Robert Deffley, Research and Development Manager at LPW Technology. “We’ve long used traditional testing techniques such as angle of repose, but these have inherent limitations. We have seen examples of two powder batches which meet the same specification showing very different behaviour, which made it necessary to look for a new method of characterisation with greater sensitivity. We considered shear cell testers, which are good for silo and hopper specification, but this test alone couldn’t accurately measure powder properties under the conditions needed to provide relevant data for additive manufacture. With the FT4 we still have shear cell capability, if we need it, but also bulk property measurement and, most importantly, dynamic characterisation capability.”
Additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing, is a potentially transformative, highly efficient manufacturing technique. It involves ‘printing’, often intricate, components to a tight specification by gradually building up powder layers which are, in the case of metal powders, selectively melted together. Controlling the performance of the powders is crucial for process efficiency and end product quality. How the powder flows and packs, as the layers are formed, are defining aspects of this performance.
“AM is advancing fast and this creates new demands for the powders used,” says Dr Deffley. “AM processes are currently used to produce components with ‘fit and form’, that is prototypes used for advanced product development. The next goal is to robustly engineer in ‘function’ – the controlled porosity for a replacement bone, for example, or complex channels for a more efficient aerospace cooling system. We’re learning that to rigorously cater for these applications we need a more robust understanding of our powders and that these must have tightly controlled, repeatable behaviour which is consistent from one batch to the next.”
The dynamic powder characterisation capability of the FT4 Powder Rheometer is based on measurement of the powder in motion and directly quantifies how the powder flows. Powders can be tested in a consolidated, conditioned, aerated or even fluidised state to fully understand the response to the process conditions. Complementary bulk and shear property measurements add to dynamic data to fully characterise the powder.
“We started with the measurement of Basic Flowability Energy, a dynamic method,” says Dr Deffley, “but now we’re measuring everything we can. All of the powder tests offered by the FT4 contribute to our understanding of how our powders behave and support us in delivering exemplary products.”
To learn more about how the FT4 Powder Rheometer is being used within the additive manufacturing community go to www.freemantech.co.uk.
To find out how LPW Technology can help with AM applications and metal powder supply go to www.lpwtechnology.com
About Freeman Technology
Freeman Technology specialises in systems for measuring the flow properties of powders and has over a decade of experience in powder flow and powder characterisation. Expert teams provide detailed know-how alongside the company’s universal powder tester, the FT4 Powder Rheometer®.
The FT4 Powder Rheometer uses patented dynamic methodology, a fully automated shear cell and several bulk property tests to quantify powder properties in terms of flow and processability. Systems are installed around the world across many different industries. They deliver data that maximise process and product understanding, accelerating RD and formulation towards successful commercialisation, and supporting the long term optimisation of powder processes.
Freeman Technology’s headquarters are in Gloucestershire, UK, with a wholly owned subsidiary in the USA and distribution partners in Brazil, Canada, China, France, India, Ireland, Japan and South-East Asia. In 2007 the company received the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in Innovation and in 2012 the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in International Trade www.freemantech.co.uk
PE19 8EP, UK
Tel: +44 (0) 1480 471059
Fax: +44 (0) 1480 471069
Please send enquiries to
Freeman Technology Ltd
1 Miller Court, Severn Drive
Tel: +44 (0)1684 851 551
Fax: +44 (0)1684 851 552
LPW Technology Ltd,
Daresbury Science & Innovation Campus
Tel: +44 (0)1925 606 520
Fax: +44 (0)845 539 0163