Epson Atmix Corporation, Aomori, Japan, an Epson Group company, has begun operations on a new production line at its Kita-Inter Plant, Hachinohe, Japan. Built with an investment of approximately JP¥1.5 billion, the new line uses a water-atomisation process to produce superfine alloy powders.
The new line will enable Epson Atmix, which also produces superfine alloy powders at its Head Office Plant, to increase its total production capacity to around 15,000 tons per year, about 1.5 times its current production capacity, by 2025.
The company’s water-atomised superfine alloy powders are classified into two main types, depending on what they are made from and how they will be used: powders for magnetic applications and powders for Metal Injection Moulding (MIM).
The company explained that it has added its own technology to a water atomisation process in which high-pressure jets of water are impinged on a stream of molten metal from a high-frequency induction furnace to cause the metal to burst into a mist that is then rapidly cooled. This process enables the production of micron-order granules to supply superfine alloy powders that are consistent and have a uniform composition and characteristics.
Atomised powders are used in MIM parts that have complex shapes and that require high dimensional accuracy and strength, such as parts for medical equipment, automobile engine applications, electronic equipment, and office-automation equipment. Demand is also expected to grow as metal Additive Manufacturing technologies become increasingly widely used throughout industry.
Epson Atmix’s lineup of MIM-grade powders includes stainless steels and low-alloy steels. The grain size can be adjusted according to the application to increase sintered part density and strength.
Magnetic-grade powders serve as the raw materials for electronic components such as inductors, choke coils, and reactors required to control the voltage of high-performance mobile devices such as smartphones and laptop computers. The market for these powders is expected to expand further in the future, owing to an increase in the use of electrical components in automobiles and an increase in the number of inductors installed in hybrid and EV vehicles.
Epson Atmix’s magnetic-grade powders control energy loss using the company’s technology for producing micro-granules. These powders also contribute significantly to reducing the power consumption and size of electrically controlled components, and to the support of high frequencies and large currents.