gas atomization metal powder

Table of Contents

Gas atomization metal powder refers to a material processing method to produce fine spherical metal powders for applications like metal injection molding (MIM), additive manufacturing, pressing and sintering, thermal spray coatings, powder metallurgy, and more.

In gas atomization, molten metal alloys are disintegrated into droplets using high pressure inert gas jets. The droplets rapidly solidify into powder, yielding highly spherical morphologies ideal for powder consolidation processes.

This guide covers gas atomized metal powder compositions, characteristics, applications, specifications, production methods, suppliers, pros vs cons, and FAQs to consider.

gas atomization metal powder

Composition of Gas Atomized Metal Powders

Various metals and alloys with tailored chemistries are atomized into powders:

MaterialComposition OverviewCommon Alloys
Stainless steelFe-Cr + Ni/Mn/Mo304, 316, 410, 420
Tool steelFe-Cr-C + W/V/Mo alloysH13, M2, P20
Aluminum alloyAl + Cu/Mg/Mn/Si2024, 6061, 7075
Titanium alloyTi + Al/V alloysTi-6Al-4V
Nickel alloyNi + Cr/Fe/Mo alloysInconel 625, 718
Copper alloyCu + Sn/Zn/alloysBrass, bronze

These metal powders offer specific mechanical, thermal, electrical and other physical properties for manufacturing needs.

Characteristics of gas atomization metal powder

In addition to chemistry, characteristics like particle size, shape, density, and microstructure determine performance:

Particle size distributionRange/distribution of diametersImpacts minimum feature resolution, packing efficiency
Particle morphologyPowder shape/surface structureRounded, smooth particles provide best flow and handling
Apparent densityWeight per volume including interparticle voidsInfluences compactability and clustering
Tap densitySettled density after mechanical tappingRelates to ease of powder bed compaction
Surface chemistrySurface oxides, residual gases or moistureAffects powder stability and consistency
MicrostructureGrain size/phase distributionDetermines properties like hardness, ductility after consolidation

These interconnected aspects are balanced for needs.

Applications of gas atomization metal powder

The consistent material input and net shaping capabilities support diverse applications:

IndustryUsesComponent Examples
Additive manufacturing3D printing feedstockAerospace airfoils, medical implants
Metal injection moldingSmall intricate metal partsNozzles, gears, fasteners
Press and sinterP/M component productionStructural auto parts, military/firearm components
Thermal spraySurface coatingsAnti-wear, anti-corrosive overlays
Powder metallurgyOilite bearings, self-lubricating bushingsWear components with porous structures

Gas atomization provides unique access to tailor microstructures and chemistries suited to end-performance needs.


While application-specific, common nominal ranges include:

ParameterTypical RangeTest Method
Particle size distribution10 – 250 μmLaser diffraction, sieve
Particle shape>85% sphericalMicroscopy
Apparent density2 – 5 g/cm3Hall flowmeter
Tap density3 – 8 g/cm3Tapping volumeter
Residual gases< 1000 ppmInert gas analysis
Surface oxide content< 1000 ppmInert gas analysis

Tighter distribution curves ensure reliable performance in subsequent processes.

Gas Atomization Production Overview

  1. Charge induction furnace with raw materials like metal ingots, waste scrap
  2. Melt material; sample chemistry and temperature
  3. Force molten metal stream into close-coupled gas atomizer nozzle(s)
  4. Shape smooth liquid metal stream(s)
  5. High velocity inert gas jets (N2, Ar) disintegrate stream into droplets
  6. Metal droplets rapidly solidify into powder ~100-800 μm
  7. Thermally classify coarse fractions via cyclone separators
  8. Collect fine powders in collection system and bins
  9. Sieve classify into size fractions as needed
  10. Package/store material with inert backfill

Precisely controlling all aspects of this process is key to consistency.

gas atomization metal powder Suppliers

Many leading global material producers offer gas atomization manufacturing:

SandvikTool steels, stainless steels, superalloysBroad range of gas atomized alloys
Carpenter TechnologyTool steels, stainless steels, specialty alloysCustom alloys available
HöganäsTool steels, stainless steelsGlobal leader in atomization
PraxairTitanium alloys, superalloysReliable supplier of precision materials
Osprey MetalsStainless steel, superalloysFocus on reactive and exotic alloys

Volume pricing depends on market conditions, lead times, exotic material charges, and other commercial factors.

Tradeoffs When Considering gas atomization metal powder


  • Consistent spherical morphology
  • Narrow particle size distributions
  • Known and uniform input chemistry
  • Controlled, clean material microstructure
  • Ideal flow characteristics for AM deposition
  • Allows thin walls/intricate geometries


  • Requires significant up front capital infrastructure
  • Limited alloy availability vs water atomization
  • Special handling to prevent contamination
  • Costs more than alternate methods at production volumes
  • Lower yield than alternate processes
  • Limited capacity for ultrafine particle sizes

For critical applications, gas atomized powder provides unique advantages related to consistency and performance.

gas atomization metal powder

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the key difference between gas and water atomization?

Gas atomization relies purely on inert gas jets to disintegrate molten metal into powder whereas water atomization uses water sprays interacting with gas jets, yielding faster cooling rates but more irregular powder.

What is the narrowest particle size distribution achievable?

Specialized nozzles, tuning, and classifier stages allow particle size distributions down to D10: 20 μm, D50: 30 μm, D90: 44 μm for gas atomization. Even tighter ranges continue to be developed.

How small can gas atomization nozzles get?

Nozzle bore sizes down to 0.5 mm have been developed to produce batch volumes less than 1 kg per hour. Though free-fall type powder classification remains challenging below 20 μm sizes.

What affects consistency between powder batches?

Control over composition, cleanliness, temperature profiles, gas pressures, atomization conditions, and powder handling/storage all contribute to reproducibility. Tight process control is essential.

What is the typical powder yield relative to initial mass?

For common alloys and size ranges, yield percentages typically span 50-85% depending on desired distribution widths and acceptable fraction outs. Finer distributions have lower yields.

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