Technical center for powder development

Development of powders for additive manufacturing with innovative process technology

Powder for additive manufacturing

Powder materials

Process engineering and materials development for application-adapted powders for additive production

The application spectrum of powders is wide: It ranges from the direct use of powders in chemical processes and formulations, soldering and welding, techniques for the production of layer structures (thermal spraying, PVD, screen printing) to component production, sintering techniques and generative processes, e.g. selective laser melting (SLS) or injection moulding (Powder Injection Molding PIM).

The innovation potential for powders in a wide variety of applications is high. Especially in the development and specification of powders for additive manufacturing there are still numerous tasks to be solved.

Fraunhofer UMSICHT in Sulzbach-Rosenberg can retrospect on 25 years of experience in powder metallurgy and offers a wide range of products for the development of powders and their production technology with specially developed plant and process engineering.

Individual development of powders

Fraunhofer UMSICHT mainly uses processes for melt sputtering for the production of application-adapted powders. In addition to the usual inert gas atomization, highly developed processes for atomization with hot gases and rotational atomization are also used.

Due to this variety of available process technology, powder qualities can be produced demand-oriented over a wide range of property profiles. These are mainly metal and alloy powders. In individual cases, special process modifications also enable experimental powder production from glass, ceramic or polymer melts or the production of composite powders.

The development of new, application-adapted, powdered materials is always carried out in direct dialogue with the customer. Depending on the application focus and material, suitable production methods are suggested.

Highly viscous melts, such as ceramics, are processed with hot gas. Using the method of reactive hot gas atomization, powders in the sub-µm and nano range can be produced. Gas mixtures, temperatures and pressures are used which are beyond what is possible with conventional atomization technology.

Very spherical powder particles with a narrow size distribution, on the other hand, are generated by rotational atomization. The size range can be adjusted from a few 10 µm to the mm range.

Fraunhofer UMSICHT can process test material, experimental and small batches from a few kg up to a size of approx. 250 kg.

The aim of a powder or powder alloy produced to customer specifications is usually to improve processing and application properties. Fraunhofer UMSICHT supports the development of manufacturing processes and the desired material parameters, e.g. for powders in the field of additive manufacturing.

In addition to powder production itself, Fraunhofer UMSICHT develops process concepts and process plants for powder production up to pilot maturity and evaluates production processes.

Metal powder / Powder from metal alloys

A large number of elements (marked green in the periodic table) have so far been used in our experimental work on powder development based on metal or metal oxide.

© Fraunhofer UMSICHT
In our atomization plants, both pure elements and tailor-made alloys with alloy melting points of up to 1750°C are treated. All alloys are manufactured from high-purity elementary materials according to the customer's specifications.

Powder development at Fraunhofer UMSICHT focuses on powder materials made of metal or metal alloys, including steels, aluminium, copper, cobalt and nickel-based alloys as well as rare earth and precious metal alloys.

© Fraunhofer UMSICHT
technical centre
© Fraunhofer UMSICHT
hot gas atomization
© Fraunhofer UMSICHT
Technical hall for powder production

Technical equipment

2 inert gas atomization units batch sizes starting from 2 kg up to 100 kg
Hot gas atomization at 25 bar with up to 1000 °C gas temperature
Rotating disk atomization with batch sizes up to 250 kg
Special features for the atomization of highly reactive materials, such as Al, Mg, Ti alloys
Inert sieving and (wind) sifting units for classification of powders down to < 7 µm under protective gas
Oven systems with specific gas mixtures up to 1800°C for modification of powders and components, corrosion tests etc. under defined atmospheres.
Thermal spraying laboratory for the development of coatings and for powder further processing
Analytical laboratory

REM/EDX,

Micro-sectioning and microscopic analysis/image processing,

thermal analysis DTA/TG und dilatometry,

X-ray diffraction,

Hardness measurement according to Vickers,

Particle size analysis (laser granulometry),

Powder flowability and apparent density