Sandvik now offers additively manufactured cemented carbide components

April 13, 2022

Sandvik has added additively manufactured cemented carbide components to its offering (Sandvik AB)
Sandvik has added additively manufactured cemented carbide components to its offering (Sandvik AB)

Sandvik AB, Stockholm, Sweden, has expanded its Additive Manufacturing offering to include the production of additively manufactured cemented carbide parts with superior wear-resistant properties.

Cemented carbides have a unique character as a result of their composite structure – a wear-resistant phase bonded together by a ductile binder metal – and are widely used across multiple industries such as metal cutting, agriculture, food, and oil and gas. Due to its inherent hardness, cemented carbides can be challenging to machine, not least in complex geometries. By leveraging its proprietary process, Sandvik states that it can now offer additively manufactured cemented carbide on a commercial scale with design freedom, decreased material waste, and fewer replacements.

In its ‘Plan it, Print it, Perfect it’ approach to Additive Manufacturing, Sandvik states that AM is just one of the seven steps you have to master in order to succeed with the industrialisation of Additive Manufacturing – and that obtaining the most optimal material, tailor-made for your AM process and end component, is the first and perhaps most important step.

Anders Ohlsson, Lead Product Manager at Sandvik Additive Manufacturing, commented, “The most critical component in our process is working with powders that have the just-right properties. Above all, high density crucially impacts the quality achievable in terms of material properties and geometry. Sandvik has developed both a powder and a process that are unique. My view is that with commercial powders, you can make things that look cool – but don’t really work. Our powders are optimised to print components that look great, work well – and are fit for use in actual applications, demanding environments, and serial production. It’s also well worth mentioning the ability to 3D print cemented carbide speeds up our time-to-market rather dramatically. Prototyping used to take six to twelve months – and now our lead time to date is a matter of weeks.”

Additive Manufacturing of a wire-drawing nib in cemented carbide can increase productivity while maintaining quality (Courtesy Sandvik)
Additive Manufacturing of a wire-drawing nib in cemented carbide can increase productivity while maintaining quality (Courtesy Sandvik)

”Cemented carbide is one of the very hardest, if not the hardest material available in 3D printed shape as of today,” continued Ohlsson. “When implementing Additive Manufacturing into your business, you basically eliminate all previous design restrictions – enabling you to focus on designing components based on operational needs and requirements, without having to adapt to a specific shape or form. One example is this wire drawing nib from a recent R&D project in our workshop. The closed loop spiral coolant channels enable efficient cooling of the nib, while the wire remains dry. This would have been impossible to achieve without Additive Manufacturing.”

A key differentiator compared to other hard materials, explains Sandvik, is the fact that these alloys are often brittle, to some extent – while cemented carbide, with its matrix structure consisting mainly of cobalt and tungsten carbide, is uniquely tough. Thanks to the extreme durability of the material, the additively manufactured components are well suited for most industries looking to optimise production efficiency – including those operating in challenging environments.

Mikael Schuisky, VP and Head of Business Unit Additive Manufacturing at Sandvik, added, “The main enabler behind us continuously building on our additive offering is the fact that at Sandvik, innovation never stops. Thanks to our longstanding experience in materials technology paired with our expertise along the additive value chain, made even stronger by our partnership with the BEAMIT Group, we can innovate at a speed few others can. This makes us uniquely positioned to drive the shift toward the industrialisation of 3D printing, and prove sustainable manufacturing isn’t just possible – it’s already happening. 3D printing in cemented carbide is a natural next step for us having perfected these materials for decades, and we are very pleased to offer additively manufactured components that can revolutionise the performance throughout our customers’ businesses.”

In the latest issue of Metal AM magazine

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