Why the cheapest powder doesn’t give you the cheapest parts
LPW is focused on developing and manufacturing the highest quality metal powder for the Additive Manufacturing market. ‘Quality’ for LPW means consistency of supply, full traceability and reliable material performance. Consistency of supply and traceability are factors which are controlled by robust Quality Management Systems, optimised manufacturing methods and trusted supply chains, however material performance is driven by the properties of the powder itself.
One of the key benefits of AM, over conventional manufacturing methods, is the ability to reuse a batch of material which has been through the process. The business case for reusing powder is strong, the more times you can reuse a batch of powder the lower the final cost per part is, on the basis of less powder ‘wasted’. The number of times a material can be reused is often determined by the user, or a perceived industry standard, but either way material performance in delivering as-built parts is typically the key metric.
Influencing the final cost per part
If we consider the final cost per part, there are actually a number of key factors which can influence that number. As with conventional manufacturing, material is generally seen as the highest cost factor in ongoing production, however powder reuse means that final cost per part does not have to reflect initial powder cost per kilo.
Two other key factors are how many viable builds can be completed from a single batch of powder, and how many parts can be produced in each build. The number of parts produced in a single build is entirely application specific and depends on the size of the part and the size of the available build volume. The number of builds that can be completed for a single batch is dependent on how quickly the powder breaches the specification limits. At this point we must consider the influence of powder evolution, how a material varies from initial specification.
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Established in 2007, LPW Technology is the market leader in the development, processing and supply of metal powders for additive manufacturing, and provides a comprehensive range of services for the AM industry. These services include the development of new alloys and expert application support. The company has developed a full range of optimised powders specifically for Selective Laser Melting (SLM), Laser Metal Deposition (LMD) and Electron Beam Melting (EBM) with standard powders supplied from stock, and custom and development alloys available on request.
LPW Technology has developed PowderLife®, a unique AM powder lifecycle management system which strictly controls risk for manufacturers, adding confidence, reliability and traceability in metal powder production and repeated AM builds. LPW invests heavily in cutting edge analytical technology and offers a complete powder analysis service.
LPW Technology has its manufacturing headquarters in Widnes, Cheshire, UK. In June, 2014 the company formally established a US subsidiary LPW Technology Inc. situated in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, providing analytical services, product inventory and sales support to North and South America.
From these locations the company supplies high quality, certified powders to a global customer base including aerospace, biomedical and automotive industries. In 2015, it opened its German sales office and has a global network of resellers in China, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Russia, Singapore, Turkey and Vietnam.
The company operates to quality control standards: AS 9100 & AS 9120 for aerospace, ISO 9001, and ISO 13485 for medical.
LPW and PowderLife are the registered trademarks of LPW Technology Ltd.
LPW Technology is the proud recipient of the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in International Trade 2016 and the Sharing in Growth ikigai award 2018
Source: LPW Technology