by Anthony Thornton, Jack Saad, Jamie Clayton

Metal powder additive manufacturing (AM) continues to be the subject of intense research activity driven by widespread recognition of its considerable value as a manufacturing technology. With an array of design and supply chain benefits from unique microstructures and part consolidation to agile, distributed production with minimal lead times, metal AM also offers potential for reduced waste and products with a lighter environmental footprint; it is now routinely applied for finished part production. The development of new metal powders, optimally specified for AM applications, is crucial for the further exploitation of this exciting technology, so is ensuring raw material consistency. Industries leading the way in AM, such as the biomedical and aerospace sectors, require certified feedstocks with robustly controlled characteristics.

In this article we consider an analytical toolkit for AM metal powders by examining their critical attributes, the properties that define in-process performance and/or the quality of the finished product. Case study data illustrate the application of key techniques.

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