Russell Finex, Feltham, London, UK, has released its new Russell AMPro Sieve Station™, a powder handling system designed to ensure the quality of powders for Additive Manufacturing. The Russell AMPro Sieve Station is fully automated and reportedly offers users a simple ‘one-button’ operation and mobile design, for ensuring powder quality at every stage of the AM process.
According to Russell Finex, the system has a flexible design which makes it suitable for numerous powder handling tasks, while a modular design allows it to be configured to meet users’ exact usage requirements. Among the system’s typical uses are:
- Sieving virgin powders
- Closed-loop powder recovery
- Build chamber evacuation
- Powder vessel transfer
A key advantage of the sieving system is its use for the requalification of powders reclaimed from an AM system’s build chamber after a build is complete. Due to the physical changes that can occur in a powder during Additive Manufacturing, reclaimed powder cannot simply be recycled and reused; the existence of deteriorated and oversized particles in the powder-bed would compromise the quality of the next build.
According to Russell Finex, a number of processes are involved in the requalification of powders. The first and most critical is to remove contaminated particles from the reclaimed powder. This is especially important for medical, automotive and aerospace applications – major AM growth industries – where the quality and reliability of the final product is critical.
As a result of this growing need, the company states that it has applied over 80 years of experience in sieving and separation solutions to develop its new AM Sieve Station, helping to guarantee a fully controllable, repeatable powder handling process with minimal operator involvement.
The system’s ‘one-button’ operation includes a touch-screen interface which is fully programmable for multiple settings, enabling the automatic processing of different powders and particle sizes. Once settings are established, the integrated sieving process, feed and flow management systems and weighing systems can be initiated by pressing a single button. According to its designers, the system has been developed to fit into any AM production process and is compatible with powder vessel transfer or as part of a closed-loop powder recovery system.
The sieve unit itself is said to provide accurate high-capacity sieving of powders, resulting in fast process times. Russell Finex states that it applied its experience supplying to sanitary industries to ensure that all contact parts are crevice-free and finished to the highest standard, for fast and effective cleaning, allowing changeover times within 30 minutes and minimising the risk of powder cross-contamination. The sieve unit can also be inert gas purged, thus preserving metal powders subject to oxidation and moisture exposure.
Russell Finex, which is headquartered in the UK and operates subsidiaries in Belgium, the USA, India and China, stated that it will offer the system’s buyers a global after-sales support network. “As additive production and manufacturers continue to develop and expand throughout the globe, Russell Finex has the infrastructure to support the industry anywhere in the world,” the company reported.
“Ultimately, the Russell AMPro Sieve Station supports the evolution of the AM industry through guaranteeing the quality of AM powders on any scale, at any stage of the production process. It is vital that the quality of powders is safeguarded, with a system that minimises the risk of operator involvement and has the capacity to support full-scale production.” The system was awarded the Solids Handling Industry Innovation Award 2017.