Effective Powder Reuse Strategies
With a new technical white paper exploring powder reuse strategies just published, we caught up with its authors Alfred Okello and Victor Samper to find out more.
Q&A with Alfred Okello & Victor Samper
Q1: Is “how many times can I reuse my powder?” the question you’re usually asked first?
A: The question isn’t usually the first one we’re asked on the topic of metal additive manufacturing, but when the conversation reaches the topic of powder in general, then yes someone usually does raise their hand and ask “how many times can I reuse my powder?”
The concept of infinite powder reuse comes up frequently, as do discussions on how many times it can be used.
Q2: Is powder and specifically powder reuse sometimes an after-thought or is it front of mind for metal additive users?
We find that powder reuse is now a topic on most additive users’ radar. Knowledge levels can vary of course, depending on the specific stage each customer is at with the technology. Having an open discussion about the choices available to them and educating on the various procedures is usually a good first step.
Q3: What do you mean by making the process and science work for the business case?
In contrast to achieving a technical result and following up with analysis to see if the business case works for one application or another, in the whitepaper we discuss the importance of setting business goals up front before you know how to achieve them technically.
The business case defines the technical targets, and materials science together with process engineering have the task of coming up with different approaches that satisfy both the business and technical goals.
Q4: Where does the human factor come into powder reuse strategies?
In any process, it can be easy to overlook human interaction with a machine or a material as a source of variation, expecting all trained users to be the same and have no impact. Additive manufacturing today still has many potential human touch points and without defined methods, the effects of human interaction can be a variation in the outcome. This seems to be true no matter the reuse strategy being adopted.