Ames Laboratory and Oak Ridge National Laboratory have been awarded $5 million from the US Department of Energy’s Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO) to improve the production and composition of metal alloy powders used in Additive Manufacturing.
“There’s a lot of intense interest focused on Additive Manufacturing with metal alloys, because there are so many potential applications,” stated Iver Anderson, Project Leader and Senior Metallurgist at Ames Laboratory and Adjunct Professor in the Materials Science and Engineering Department at Iowa State University. “Industry has demands for prototyping parts, design development, reducing waste of expensive materials and efficiently producing custom and legacy components for their customers.”
With those Additive Manufacturing processes using metal alloy powders as raw materials, the ability to control the properties and quality of the powder becomes paramount to the quality of the final product.
“Today, if a manufacturer went to metal powder producers with a shopping list of the alloys and powder specifications they needed for their manufacturing process, they very likely wouldn’t find what they want,” stated Anderson. “The customisation capabilities are just not there and we need to get there. That is going to be the key to commercially competitive Additive Manufacturing processes.”
The project aims to improve powder production by further developing a high pressure gas atomisation process pioneered at Ames Laboratory. The team will design and customise alloys specifically for Additive Manufacturing processing methods. Modelling and simulation of gas atomisation process stages at Ames Lab will use a flow simulation code developed by National Energy Technology Laboratory for part of the work. The experimental gas atomisation work and alloy design calculations/verification also will be performed in the powder synthesis facilities at Ames Laboratory. Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility (ORNL-MDF) will conduct the corresponding Additive Manufacturing experiments.