As is becoming a tradition, EPMA's 2016 Congress in Hamburg, doubling as the World Congress, gave pride of place to hardmetals. Lead-in subject was hardmetal processing, taking two complete sessions for the oral presentations. Omitting only two papers (one because of its similarity to another which I’ve recently reviewed, and the other because it's not about hardmetals but a related subject). I’ve tried to present and discuss some of the key pointers in these important conference sessions.

Die-fill optimization

For process optimization purposes during die filling, it is important to understand the impact of process parameters as well as powder morphological and physical parameters. The word rheometry, originally employed for fluids and slurries, has been adopted for such studies, focusing in this presentation on Discrete Element Method (DEM) models. Presented by Christian Grohs ( Fig. 1) of Plansee SE, Austria, the full title of the paper was ‘Rheometer-based characterization of hardmetal and refractory metal powders for calibrating discrete element method models’.

For this research, DEM models simulating the filling process were calibrated by a rheometer-based technique devised for gravitation-induced flow of hardmetal and refractory metal powders.

Experimental and numerical tests were carried out to evaluate material-specific parameters of the DEM-based process model. In particular, WC/Co hardmetal powder with average granule size of up to 400 μm as well as a standard Mo powder grade with average grain size of 4.6 μm were characterized. The values were then employed for further validation by DEM models.

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