Aurora Labs Limited, Western Australia, Australia, has been working on a method to develop better 3D printable powder by producing spherically shaped metal powder for metal 3D printing applications. It has developed a prototype Powder Production Unit (“PPU”) that successfully produced laboratory test scale powder.
The PPU is intended to test and demonstrate the technology for producing high-quality powders for use with 3D metal printers at substantially lower cost than existing processes. The powder produced from the test samples showed a tight size distribution.
Traditional processes of manufacturing spherical metal powder for 3D printing tend to produce a wide size distribution of powder particles. Typically, only a fraction of the powder produced is in the correct size range for use in printing. The balance has to be recycled or allocated to other markets.
By having a tight size distribution where all the powder particles are close to each other in size, Aurora’s process potentially will result in much higher yields when compared to traditional processes.
The next phase of proving high volume production will be important to confirm these yields and quality parameters. The production method used in the prototype PPU is still in early development. While the initial results from testing are significant and positive, they are early stage results and further testing and refinement of the process is required.
The company is developing the powder manufacturing parameters for the production of a full range of metal consumable powders as the process is refined. Aurora’s ultimate aim is to build an assembly line for full-sized PPUs, each capable of producing up to 5 tons of powder per day.
Currently, the international powdered metals market, (metal injection moulding (MIM) powders) is valued in the billions of dollars. Advancing PPU technology could develop significant synergies between metal powder production and the anticipated demand created by additive manufacturing. Aurora is currently in discussion with a number of global powder manufacturers, exploring possible synergies and business opportunities.
Aurora Labs Limited