CHEMICALS

Process technologies for tomorrow.

PROCESS SYSTEMS FOR 3D PRINTING POWDERS

Manufacturing high quality synthetic or metallic products and spare parts using a 3D printer requires pure and stable powders, which in turn places high demands on the processing equipment used to produce them. The polymer and metal powders employed in additive manufacturing must meet increasingly high demands in terms of not only narrow particle size distribution but also particle consistency regarding factors such as shape and composition. The Hosokawa Micron Group has the appropriate powder processing technology to fulfill these demands and provides specially adapted equipment for 3D printing powders. Machines such as mixers, vacuum dryers, mills, and air classifiers are all examples of custom-developed equipment designed for processing powders used in 3D printing. These machines are utilized to remove impurities, undersized particles, and agglomerates, while optimizing the material's quality to ensure its suitability for use in the additive manufacturing process.

POLYMER POWDERS

Conical Paddle Mixer/Dryer

For the production of virgin material, the raw materials must be conditioned, crystallized and/or polymerized in such a way as to make them suitable for high-precision 3D printing processes. In addition to being perfectly spherical, the powder particles must also have the necessary shape retention and the right melting point. Hosokawa Micron’s conical paddle mixer/dryer (CPM/CPD) is an ideal solution for conditioning powders.

This mid-shear mixer facilitates the mixing and heating (up to between 100 and 300°C) of polymer powders such as polyamides to improve the particles’ physical and chemical properties such as bulk density and stability. This makes it possible to strengthen the particles by performing a crystallization step.

Polymer reduction

Contraplex pin mill

One machine that is particularly suitable for the production of polymer powders for 3D printers is Hosokawa Alpine’s CW Contraplex pin mill, a nitrogen-cooled wide-chamber impact mill with optimal pin geometry. The temperature can be regulated so that polymers can be reduced under optimal conditions with minimal use of nitrogen, which keeps the energy consumption down.

METAL POWDERS

Nauta mixer / vacuum dryer

Mixing and drying can be challenging processes in the production and further processing of metal powders, especially in the case of hygroscopic powders which can oxidize or clump when exposed to moisture. Depending on the application and the material properties, the powders can be thermally treated in a CPM/CPD or a Nauta mixer/vacuum dryer, including in an inert (argon) atmosphere if necessary.

Thanks to its extremely careful handling of products plus its low energy consumption (even in the case of very high-density metal powders), the Nauta mixer/vacuum dryer offers considerable added value in the additive manufacturing sector. The Nauta mixer can also be used to recycle 3D powder by mixing it with virgin material.

CLASSIFICATION

ATP Turboplex air classifier ATP Turboplex air classifier

A narrow particle size distribution of the polymer and metal powders is of crucial importance in additive manufacturing. Hosokawa Alpine supplies proven classification technology for this purpose, including the ATP Turboplex air classifiers for extremely fine powders. These machines enable flexible and precise distinctions in the 5 to 150 micron range.

Hosokawa Alpine also offers the TSP and TTSP air classifiers that have been specially developed for dedusting toner. The TTSP is the only air classifier on the market that can make two precise distinctions in the same machine. This makes it possible to both dedust materials and remove the overly large particles in a single step.

TESTING & PROCESS DEVELOPMENT

Hosokawa Micron powder processing Test Centre in Doetinchem, Netherlands

Our test and process development centre in the Netherlands offers unique possibilities for testing your product to determine the most efficient process, system or plant prior to final design. We can provide laboratory-level as well as production-sized trials.

Whether you wish to test a single machine or a complete powder processing system, the same skilled and experienced staff are here to help ensure that your requirements are met, and that you are entirely satisfied with the results.

We offer process equipment and technologies from individual units to large scale bespoke system solutions. Our principle is to deliver high performance yet affordable solutions that meet our customers' demands and long term challenges.

HOW CAN WE HELP YOU?

To learn more about our processing equipment and systems for the production of 3D printing powders, contact us:

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SUSTAINABLE PROCESSING SYSTEMS

Hosokawa Micron B.V. is certified according to ISO 14001. Our certification covers all environmental themes of ISO 14001: air, soil, energy, waste, water, noise and hazardous substances. In addition, Hosawa Micron was awarded an EcoVadis Silver Medal for its sustainability achievements. EcoVadis determined that the company was among the top 15% of companies rated by EcoVadis in the special machinery industry.

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