New process for the production of metal powders for Additive Manufacturing systems

February 4, 2015

Zecotek Photonics Inc., a developer of photonics technologies for industrial, healthcare and scientific markets based in Canada, has announced that its wholly owned subsidiary Zecotek Display Systems Pte. Ltd. and Armenia based strategic partners the Institute of Chemical Physics and LT-Pyrkal, have successfully developed a unique manufacturing technology for metal powders to be used with 3D printers.

The new manufacturing approach uses metal hydrides synthesis and it is claimed to have significant advantages over traditional techniques. High productivity, superior quality of synthesized hydride, significantly lower energy consumption, ecological purity and safety of the process are among the stated benefits.

“Our new and unique manufacturing technology for metal powders is a significant achievement in the advancement of 3D printing,” stated Dr A F Zerrouk, Chairman, President, and CEO of Zecotek Photonics Inc. “The quest for cheap and available powders of refractory metals has been long and hard and the 3D industry will value our solution. Laser sintering based 3D printing is undoubtedly the technology of the future. We expect the advantages of our breakthrough technology to greatly contribute to the rapid development of additive technologies for 3D rapid manufacturing. The development of a new generation of hydrogen-containing materials, including those based on refractory metals, nano-modified alloys and certain inter-metallides groups, is key for additive 3D printing technologies. Zecotek and its strategic partners are leading the way in this very vast and rapidly changing market. ”

Laser sintering based 3D printing is an Additive Manufacturing technique that uses a laser as the energy source to sinter metal powder, binding the material together to create a solid structure. Traditional metal powder manufacturing requires laborious operations to prepare hydrides, such as initial activation of metal and the deep cleaning of hydrogen, plus use of expensive fine metal powder under hydrogenation. The metal powder developed by Zecotek and partners is claimed to be compatible with Zecotek`s 3D printer and other laser sintering based systems.

Zecotek has been working with the Institute of Chemical Physics of the National Academy of Sciences to extend the list of high-performance powder metal alloys for use in its compact, high-speed 3D printer. The Institute along with Zecotek and LT-Pyrkal are collaborating to fine tune the advanced technology necessary for the fabrication of metal powders from metal hydride compounds.

In July 2014 Zecotek contracted LT-PYRKAL to assemble and test its first compact, high-speed 3D printer which will use high-performance metal alloys and offer technical and commercial advantages over other 3D printing technology. A number of key technical challenges have been solved and LT-Pyrkal is proceeding with the assembly of the new 3D printer, which will be used for both prototyping and distributed manufacturing with specific applications in electronics, aerospace, automotive, mechanical and healthcare industries. A working prototype of the high-speed 3D printer is scheduled for later this year. 


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