In 2017 Farleygreene became involved in an Innovate UK funded project called PowderCleanse, focused on metal powder recycling for the Additive Manufacturing (AM) industry. Farleygreene, along with the other members of the PowderCleanse Consortium, learned late last year their project had been shortlisted for the Collaborate to Innovate (C2I) Manufacturing Technology award.
Powder Management in AM
AM, or 3D printing, uses a specially designed machine (or printer) to create components from powdered material. Using a laser or electron beam, the printer builds layers of material which bond together as they cool. This process of manufacturing is especially important to the automotive and aerospace industries as light, strong and complex components can be created.
An aspect of AM that receives relatively limited attention, yet underpins the foundation that AM relies upon, is powder management. Powder bed AM processes typically use up to 20kg or powder for each 1kg of manufactured part. This means that AM users must be able to effectively handle and recycle vast amounts of powder during the process. However, powder handling equipment in the current generation of AM machines creates a potential risk to both powder traceability and powder quality.
The PowderCleanse Project
The project has developed and demonstrated an effective solution for powder management which utilises digital connectivity to both monitor and control every aspect of the process. Key innovations have been developed for; metal powder sieving, online process monitoring, foreign body contamination detection, and fully enclosed powder handling environments.
The consortium is made up of the following companies:
• The Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC): for system testing
• Carpenter Additive – providing powder storage and tracking software
• Farleygreene – powder sieving technology
• Malvern Panalytical – providing the advances particle analysis instrument
• Aegleteq – who offer expertise in X-Ray equipment and analysis
PowderCleanse seeks to address issues with the current powder handling approach, by providing a sealed inline powder processing and analysis system that analyses up to 100% of the processed powder in a sealed or closed loop environment. The project demonstrates a real need for digital advancement and connectivity of powder processing methods in an advanced market sector.
The winners of this year’s awards will be unveiled during a special C2I week that will be hosted on The Engineer’s Website from 1st to 5th February. As a collaboration we look forward to seeing how we progress in these prestigious awards and wish all the other finalists the best of luck!
For more information on the PowderCleanse project, you can watch the PowderCleanse Demonstration Day webinar here.