Plansee SE, based in Reutte, Austria, has developed a Selective Laser Melting process for refractory metals and has announced that the first components have already been delivered to its customers. The Additive Manufacturing process has been perfected for the manufacturing of tungsten and molybdenum products, allowing the production of new and innovative components that could not previously be manufactured.
The company stated that the development process has been challenging, as there is a great difference in the melting point and the machinability of refractory metals compared to other materials such as steel.
The conventional powder metallurgical route at Plansee comprises of pressing metal powder, sintering, forming and machining the metal component. Work-intensive non-cutting and cutting processes give the semifinished products such as sheets, blocks or rods their final shape.
The difference with the Selective Laser Melting process is that a thin layer of powder is applied on a base plate, one after another. A laser fuses the powder and builds the new component one layer at a time. Non melted powder can be re-used for the manufacturing of a new part. “Nearly all geometries are imaginable. The only input we need is a 3D drawing from our customer,” stated Bernhard Tabernig who is responsible for the development of new materials and technologies at Plansee.
The new process can be used, for example, in medical technology. “We have already constructed components for X-ray diagnostics. They have a particularly complex grid structure for absorbing the scattering radiation as good as possible,” stated Peter Singer, who along with Tabernig developed the process at Plansee. “Without the new manufacturing process we could not hold these products in our hands.”
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