Metal Alloy Powders

Table of Contents

Metal alloy powders enable manufacturing of high performance parts using powder metallurgy pressing and sintering or additive manufacturing methods across transportation, industrial, medical and energy industries. This guide covers various alloy options, powder production processes, key specifications, use cases, quality considerations and sourcing advisory.

Types of metal alloy powders

Common categories:

TypeExamplesKey Properties
Nickel AlloysInconel, Monel, HastelloyCorrosion resistance, heat resistance
Cobalt AlloysMP35N, Haynes 25, StelliteWear resistance, biocompatibility
Titanium AlloysCP Grade, Ti-6Al-4V, Ti-6Al-7NbHigh strength, low weight
Stainless Steels316, 17-4PH, 15-5PHCorrosion resistance, strength
Tool SteelsH13, M2, M4, P20Wear resistance, toughness
Copper AlloysChrome copper, Brass, BronzeElectrical & thermal conductivity

Match alloy material properties to critical part performance requirements like heat tolerance, hardness, fatigue life etc driving powder grade selection.

metal alloy powders

Metal Powder Production Methods

Key commercial scale manufacturing processes:

  • Gas Atomization – High pressure inert gas breaks up molten metal stream into fine droplets. Achieves spherical powders with good flow and packing properties. Different nozzles generate desired size ranges.
  • Plasma Atomization – High energy plasma arc melts feedstock. Powerful induction coils generate droplets that solidify into spherical powders with tight particle distributions.
  • Rotating Electrode – Centrifugal forces acting on spinning molten alloy subjected to inert gas jets causes disintegration into fine droplets resulting in spherical powders.
  • Electrolysis – Metal ions from solution plate out on cathodes as fine powder particles. Used for reactive materials like aluminum, magnesium, titanium.

Controlling process parameters like temperature, atmosphere and cooling rates result in quality powder feedstock for part fabrication using additive manufacturing or powder metallurgy compaction.

Typical Specifications

ParameterDescriptionTest Method
Purity>99%, minimize impuritiesICP analysis
Particle shapeSpherical >80%Microscopy
Particle Size DistributionTight ranges as requiredLaser diffraction
Tap densityMaterial dependentHall flowmeter
Apparent densityMaterial dependentPycnometry
Flow ratesStandardized for each nominal sizeHall flowmeter
Surface oxides<3000 ppm; oxide thicknessInert gas fusion; XRD

Review statistical batch data from manufacturer against these metrics specific to your target grade confirming quality and consistency relative to standards.


Metal alloy powder applications span:

Aerospace – Engine components like blades, nozzles; airframe fittings, landing gear parts; on-board systems

Industrial – Natural gas/petroleum pumps, valves, drill bits; tooling inserts; nuclear reactors; heat exchangers

Automotive – Engine components, turbocharger rotors, gears; chassis, drivetrain parts

Medical – Implants for knees, hips, dental; surgical tools; imaging instruments

Consumer – High end watches, sports equipment like bicycles, golf clubs etc requiring strength, aesthetics

Energy – Solar cell contacts, electrodes; generators; battery components; wind turbines

Taking advantage oftailorable materials properties with design freedom and precision.

Industrial Standards

Key specifications applicable to metal alloy powders:

ASTM B213Standard classification system for metal powders
ISO 4490Chemical analysis, sampling procedures
ASTM B822Apparent density and flow rate measurement
MPIF 04Statistical methods for metal powder analysis

Review statistically validated certifications showing conformance to grade composition limits and production quality consistency relative to applicable standards.

Common Metal Powder Grades

AlloyTrade NamesSpecifications
Nickel AlloysInconel 718, 625; Hastelloy X; Monel K500AMS 5662, 5663 etc.
Cobalt AlloysMP35N, Haynes 25, Stellite 21ASTM F90, F1537 etc.
Titanium AlloysTi-6Al-4V Grade 5; Ti-6Al-7Nb ; CP Ti Grade 2AMS 4911, ASTM B348 etc.
Stainless SteelsSS 316L; 17-4PH; 15-5 PH;ASTM A240, B945 etc.
Tool SteelsH13; M2; M4; P20+NiAISI typesASTM A681
Copper AlloysC18150, C19500, C95810UNS No., ASTM B194 etc.

Match target grade to applicable alloy specifications that align with finished part functionality needs across strength, conductivity, corrosion resistance parameters.

Quality Considerations

MetricPurposeTest Method
CompositionVerify grade purityICP analysis
Particle size distributionAM compatibility, sintering responseLaser diffraction
Hall flow ratePowder packing density, layer uniformityHall flowmeter
Tap densityIndicates final part densityWeigh measured volume
Apparent densityPowder system densityGas pycnometry
Particle shapeSphericity optimizes propertiesMicroscopy
Surface oxidesImpacts powder reuseInert gas fusion analyzer

Consistent quality across these metrics is directly correlated with consistent final part performance meeting specifications.

Sourcing Considerations

Batch Data SheetsHigh
Sampling SupportHigh
Lead TimeMedium
Price FactorsLow

Try powder samples first before large purchases to qualify printing or compression responses relative to application needs.

metal alloy powders


Q: What is the difference between pre-alloyed and blended elemental powders?

A: Pre-alloyed powders have uniform composition throughout each spherical particle. Blended elemental mixes may have slight composition differences between particles that can create inhomogeneities in final parts.

Q: Should metal powders be stored under special conditions?

A: Store sealed with dessicant away from moisture and oxygen which causes deterioration. Limit temperature variation to 10-30°C. Discard if severe discoloration, caking or significant loss of flow. Shelf life is typically over a year if properly stored.

Q: What are common metal powder blend mixes?

A: Cobalt-chrome, stainless steel-17-4PH, and nickel alloy-stainless steel powder blends offer ways to tailor final part material properties like strength, wear resistance or corrosion resistance at lower costs than high purity grades.

Q: What precautions are needed when handling metal powders?

A: Use appropriate PPE and avoid skin contact or inhalation during powder handling. Passivated powders pose fewer health hazards compared to atomized powders which can be more reactive. Review SDS sheets on flammability, reactivity and exposure protocols.

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