The simulation technique could improve powder distribution.
The simulation technique could improve powder distribution.

Using the technique, the physical properties, size and shape of the grains as well as the shape of the mould are all taken into account. Scientists then calculate how and where the powder grains flow into the mould and what the density distribution is like after filling. “By describing the powder numerically we can attach values to virtually every grain,” says Dr. Claas Bierwisch from the Fraunhofer Institute for Mechanics of Materials IWM.

Currently, ensuring even distribution of the powder is an ‘expensive trial and error approach’, the scientists say, leading to problems with the preformed part. “[Generally], the metal powder is not distributed 100 percent evenly in the mould,” says Dr Bierwisch. “These inhomogeneous distributions of density could cause the part to warp or even crack, affecting its loadability, precision and service life.”
The researchers suggest that this new technique could improve the cost-efficiency of sintering. They aim to perfect the technique and avoid costly waste. It is now possible for the first time to realistically simulate the production of three-dimensional parts,  such as toothed wheels in gear systems or washers in one-hand mixer taps for washbasins.