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Advanced Powder Handling in the Additive Manufacturing industries –

Safe Vacuum Conveying and more around 3D-Printing |

There are various powder handling tasks around Additive Manufacturing. Feeding the machines with new powders, emptying them and recycling the powder with sieving, combining/interlinking various printers (multi-machine layouts); this all requires a very flexible powder handling system.

Usually polymer powders are relatively easy to handle, however metal  powders are more demanding. Criteria like high bulk density, abrasiveness and flowing properties are not the only challenge. Conventional mechanical conveying systems (e.g. auger- or screw-conveyors) are often not able to handle demanding powders like stainless steel-, titanium- or alumina-powder.

Moreover they include potential ignition risks since they can create mechanical friction and heat, but also electrical sparks. Hence they are not the preferred choice when it comes to Explosion Protection (EP) or ATEX requirements.

With the growing demand in using larger printers and in greater quantities, the requirements for powder handling are constantly rising and the tasks are getting more complex. One question could be of how to integrate a sieve in the conveying process and allow recycling of the metal powder whilst maintaining a high throughput rate.

A combination of conveying and sieving is the answer to that which  combines the required material handling and sieving within one machine. Although most of the powder handling is still done under atmospheric  conditions, an inert version for the powder transfer and sieving is also available. Latest advances from various research and development projects are also presented for the first time to a larger audience.


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