Swerea KIMAB increases the capacity by building smaller
13 March, 2018
To facilitate the material development for new alloys in powder bed with electron beam (PBF-EB), Swerea KIMAB has developed and installed a new build tank that only requires one or two kilos of powder to investigate the printability of a material. The small build tank is adapted to equal the amount of powder achieved from the powder atomizer present in the same organization.
In the PBF-EB equipment from Arcam that is in operation at Swerea KIMAB it today requires at least about 40 kilograms of metal powder to conduct a minimum build of a small test cube of 5 mm in height. Powder amounts up to 100 kilogram are needed to be able to build any larger components! For development of new alloys in the PBF-EB process, this powder requirement is too large, which result in too high powder costs. By the installation of a build tank, that optimizes the required amount of powder, the 5 mm test cube can be built using only a single kilogram of powder.
This opens the possibility to conduct initial test with new types of powder alloys to investigate their feasibility in a cheaper and faster way. When the alloy’s properties and “printability” are under control and the process parameters are well tuned, it is possible scale up the process to its original size for manufacturing of larger demonstrators.
– We are now able to in a fast way optimize a material for AM, everything form material modelling, powder manufacturing, and to test in the PBF-EB; all in the same building. It is further possible to make a full characterization of the material’s and powder’s properties. We hold the complete chain in taking the material from idea to a finished product, says Joakim Ålgårdh, Swerea KIMAB
For the design of the new equipment, Swerea KIMAB has work together with an international university that has previously made the same modification of their PBF-EB equipment. The equipment at Swerea KIMAB is however adapted, improved and optimized to suit the needs from the Swedish industry. Since it is a system that has been sued from before, we know it works.