Powdered Metals in Additive Manufacturing (AM) and Powder Metallurgy (PM)

Metal additive manufacturing and powder metallurgy, rely on the quality of powdered metals, feedstock material and the optimization of equipment and process parameters to yield the highest quality parts. Demanding applications such as aerospace, power generation, medical/dental and military, are particularly exacting, as defects or discontinuities could result in unpredictable or even catastrophic failure. For example, ceramic contaminants in metal powder feedstock can become incorporated into parts built using the AM powder bed fusion method, creating internal discontinuities that may concentrate stresses and contribute to fatigue crack initiation when the product is in service.

Feedstock Quality Assessment

RJ Lee Group offers an extensive array of analytical methods and techniques appropriate to each powdered metals sample, whether virgin and recycled feedstock material is used.

  • Powdered Metals (Laser or Electron Beam Powder Bed Fusion, or Directed Energy Deposition)
    • Composition
      • Bulk chemistry
      • Particle by Particle (PxP) using computer-controlled SEM
    • Dimensions
      • Particle size distribution (PSD)
      • Shape factors (aspect ratio, roundness, roughness) per ASTM F1877
      • Surface detail captured in PxP images
    • Contaminants
      • Cross-Contamination (particles of undesired alloy present in subject alloy)
      • Non-Metallic / Ceramic / Oxide / Carbonaceous Contaminants

Characterization for All Types of Additive Manufacturing / 3D Printing

  • Feedstock Material
    • Powders, particulates, wires, strands, sheets, fibers, etc.
    • Metals and alloys, ceramics, polymers, concrete, etc.
    • Cleanliness, contaminant identification, particle size distribution, shape factors, compositions, cross-contamination, hollow powder
    • Freeze/thaw
  • Final Part Evaluation
    • Microstructure and porosity
      • Montage of large areas (optical or SEM)
      • Distribution/orientation of particles or fibers
    • Electron Backscattered Diffraction (EDBD) for grain size and orientation
    • Fractography and failure analysis
    • Hardness and mechanical properties
  • Environment and Safety
    • Possible environmental emissions resulting from AM processes