In Additive Manufacturing, the production steps from metal powder to final components are very few. This is why, the quality of raw material must be constantly monitored.
Especially for high performance applications, such as aerospace, it becomes important to identify critical additional factors like the possible presence of contaminant particles in the powder.
As a metal powder producer, MIMETE uses different internal practices to detect possible anomalies and to study their nature.
One of the main qualitative risks related to powder metallurgy is metal powders contamination: the mixing between different alloys, in fact, could cause anomalous segregation and possible undesired precipitation of secondary phases that might act as failure initiation. MIMETE is very careful about this aspect and applies strict rules all along the production process to avoid that different powders come into contact. Nevertheless, as additional care, a detailed study was conducted to define the detectability of contamination by means of different techniques: EDS mapping by SEM, ICP chemical analysis, high-energy tomography. In order to compare the sensitivity of these methods some controlled artificial blending were prepared and tested, showing that now only statistical control is possible and relatively high contamination is measurable. Further testing would be necessary to evaluate the real critical limit for application, i.e. on additive manufactured samples produced by voluntarily contaminated powders.
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