AM builds components by powder bed fusion where powder is added in successive layers of multiple thin sheets of materials that are fused by laser or electron beams. Additive Manufacturing produces complex, high-value parts with intricate features, which cannot be fabricated through subtractive manufacturing methods. Additive manufacturing also has the benefit that parts can be made without tooling, and with the ability to go directly from a digital design to finished part. AM also produces very little waste when compared to subtractive processes. AM is ideal for fast, intricate, inexpensive prototyping.
The physical characteristics of powders used in additive manufacturing can have significant influence on process efficiencies, performance and the quality of the final products. The physical and chemical character of the powders used in AM, such as size, shape, surface area, porosity, and impurity content, are vitally important elements that effect, reproducibility and the quality of the process methodology. Determining the properties of powders used in a AM manufacturing is an absolute requirement for industry to assuredly elect raw material powders that will deliver build consistency and a final product with known and expected properties.