Metal powders are some of the most finicky materials in the 3D printing industry in that, not only do the metal particles require a high level of consistency, sphericity, and small size range for powder bed fusion (PBF), but every metal is quite different from one another. Moreover, many can be toxic or even highly explosive.
For this reason, handling metal powders is no easy task, typically requiring elaborate systems with inert gas environments to depowder parts and prepare subsequent builds, all within a well-regulated facility. To ease the burdens of this costly, labor-intensive and sometimes dangerous process, French 3D printing company AddUp teamed up with the AZO Group to develop a fully automated powder handling and feeding system for metal 3D printing.
The powder handling system in its development phase. Image courtesy of AZO Group.
AZO is a €167 million German company with offices across seven countries. It is dedicated to the automation of raw materials processing. For this reason, AddUp, an entity started by Michelin and the Fives Group, turned to AZO France for a customer-specific solution for an inert metal powder handling solution for feeding the material to