However, new additive manufacturing technologies are rapidly gaining ground. Selective laser melting (metal 3D printing) and MIM (metal injection molding), to name but two of the most important systems, have one thing in common: They require the metals in powder form. The importance of these processes was recognized early on at Indutherm/Blue Power and work was carried out to drive forward the development of gas atomization systems for producing metal powders. The principle works as follows: The metal is melted in the vacuum chamber by means of inductive heating. The molten mass that drains off under pressure is broken down into the finest droplets by a strong gas flow. Ideally, these droplets then solidify into spherical particles once they cool down.
The atomizers in the AU series and the accompanying systems – for classifying the powder by particle size, for example – are specifically designed for producing smaller amounts of powder. “Particularly in the areas of research and product development and of course for precious metal applications, smaller batches tend to be needed, which cannot be produced economically on large systems,” explains project manager Dr. Jörg Fischer-Bühner. “With our systems, even small amounts of very pure, highly specialized metal powder can be produced, which meet strictly defined requirements. Particle size, particle shape, flowability of the powder, purity of the alloy with no oxidation or contamination from other metals – everything has to be right here.” Various atomization systems and nozzle types are available with and without hot gas. The systems can be cleaned quickly and easily, which is important to prevent metal losses and cross-contamination.
We are delighted that several of the atomizer components come from the Rutronik product range. Buyer Daniel Hofmann appreciates the “fast order processing, good products at fair prices, availability at short notice, and the very pleasant and human communication” at Rutronik24, as he is keen to emphasize.
And should you ever set eyes on gold in powder form, you will probably be disappointed by the rather unspectacular sight. All the same, at least you will know something about the complex production technology and perhaps even know which system was used to produce the powder.