3D Printing Metal Powders



3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing (AM), utilizes metal powders to construct complex components layer by layer directly from digital models. The powders are selectively melted or bound by precision heat sources guided by the CAD model geometries.

Popular AM processes for metals include binder jetting, directed energy deposition, powder bed fusion, sheet lamination, and more. Each requires powder feedstock with specific characteristics to achieve optimal density, surface finish, dimensional accuracy, and mechanical properties.

This guide provides an in-depth look at metal powders for 3D printing, including alloy types, powder production methods, key powder properties, applications, specifications, suppliers, and purchasing considerations when sourcing material. Helpful comparison tables summarize technical data to assist with powder selection and qualification.

Connecting with knowledgeable suppliers of optimized 3D printing powders enables manufacturers to improve print quality, reduce defects, and fully leverage AM benefits like design freedom, faster iteration, and part consolidation.

3D 프린팅 금속 분말

Alloys for 3D Printing Powders

A wide range of metals and alloys are available in powder form suitable for AM processes:

Common Alloy Systems for 3D Printing Metal Powders

  • 스테인리스 스틸
  • 공구강
  • 티타늄 및 티타늄 합금
  • 알루미늄 합금
  • 니켈 초합금
  • 코발트-크롬 합금
  • 구리 합금
  • 귀금속

Both standard and custom alloys can be sourced to meet specific application requirements in terms of corrosion resistance, strength, hardness, conductivity, or other properties.

Metal Powder Production Methods for AM

Additive manufacturing utilizes metal powders produced through:

Typical Metal Powder Manufacturing Methods for 3D Printing

  • 가스 분무
  • 물 분무
  • 플라즈마 분무
  • 전기 분해
  • Carbonyl iron process
  • 기계적 합금
  • Metal hydriding/dehydriding
  • 혈장 구상화
  • 과립화

Spherical atomized powders provide optimal flow and dense packing needed for most AM processes. Some techniques allow nanoscale or customized alloy particles.

Key Characteristics of Metal Printing Powders

Critical powder characteristics for AM include:

Metal 3D Printing Powder Properties

특성일반적인 값중요성
입자 크기 분포10 to 45 micronsAffects densification, surface finish
파티클 모양구형Improves flow and packing
겉보기 밀도2 to 4 g/ccInfluences bed density
탭 밀도3 to 6 g/ccIndicates compressibility
홀 유량25-50 s/50gEnsures smooth powder spreading
점화 시 손실0.1-0.5%Low moisture improves printing
산소 함량<0.1%Minimizes microstructural defects

Precisely controlling characteristics like particle size, shape, and chemistry is critical to achieve fully dense AM parts with the desired mechanical properties.

응용 3D Printing Metal Powders

AM enables complex geometries impossible through conventional techniques:

Metal 3D Printing Applications

항공우주Turbine blades, structuresDesign freedom, weight reduction
의료임플란트, 보철물, 기구Customized shapes
자동차Lightweighting prototypes and toolsRapid iteration
방어Drone parts, protective structuresQuick prototypes and short runs
에너지Heat exchangers, manifoldsPart consolidation and topology optimization
전자 제품Shielding, cooling devices, EMIComplex enclosed structures

Lightweighting, part consolidation, and high-performance alloys for extreme environments provide key advantages over traditional manufacturing methods.

Specifications for 3D Printing Metal Powders

International specifications help standardize AM powder characteristics:

Metal Powder Standards for Additive Manufacturing

표준범위매개변수Test Methods
ASTM F3049Guide for characterizing AM metalsSampling, size analysis, chemistry, defectsMicroscopy, diffraction, SEM-EDS
ASTM F3001-14Titanium alloys for AMParticle size, chemistry, flowSieving, SEM-EDS
ASTM F3301Nickel alloys for AMParticle shape and size analysisMicroscopy, image analysis
ASTM F3056Stainless steel for AMChemistry, powder propertiesICP-OES, pycnometry
ISO/ASTM 52921Standard terminology for AM powdersDefinitions and powder characteristicsVarious

Compliance with published specifications ensures repeatable, high quality powder feedstock for critical applications.

글로벌 공급업체 3D Printing Metal Powders

Leading international suppliers of AM-optimized metal powders include:

Metal Powder Manufacturers for 3D Printing

공급업체재료Typical Particle Size
샌드빅Stainless, tool steel, nickel alloys15-45 미크론
프렉스에어티타늄, 초합금10-45 미크론
AP&C티타늄, 니켈, 코발트 합금5-25 미크론
목수 첨가제Cobalt chrome, stainless, copper15-45 미크론
LPW 기술Aluminum alloys, titanium10-100 microns
EOSTool steel, cobalt chrome, stainless20-50 microns

Many focus on fine spherical powders specifically engineered for common AM methods like binder jetting, powder bed fusion, and directed energy deposition.

Purchasing Considerations for 3D Printing Metal Powder

Key aspects to discuss with metal powder suppliers:

  • Desired alloy composition and properties
  • Target particle size distribution and shape
  • Envelope density and hall flowability
  • Allowable impurity levels like oxygen and moisture
  • Required testing data and powder characterization
  • Available quantity range and lead times
  • Special handling precautions for pyrophoric materials
  • Quality systems and powder origin traceability
  • Technical expertise in AM-specific powder requirements
  • Logistics and delivery mechanisms

Work closely with suppliers experienced in optimized AM powders to ensure ideal powder selection for your process and components.

Pros and Cons of Metal 3D Printing Powders

Benefits vs Limitations of Metal Powders for AM

Allows complex, customized geometriesHigher cost than conventional materials
Shortens development time dramaticallyPowder handling precautions required
Simplifies assemblies and lightweightsPost-processing often needed on as-printed parts
Achieves properties nearing wrought materialsSize and build volume constraints
Eliminates expensive dies, molds, toolingThermal stresses can cause cracking and distortion
Enables parts consolidation and topology optimizationLower production volumes than traditional methods
Improves buy-to-fly ratio greatlyRequires rigorous powder characterization and parameter development

When used appropriately, metal AM provides game-changing benefits but requires expertise to implement successfully.

3D 프린팅 금속 분말

자주 묻는 질문

How small can metal powder particle size be for AM?

Specialized atomization techniques can produce powder down to 1-10 microns, however most metals printers work best with minimum size around 15-20 microns for good flow and packing.

What causes poor surface finish in printed metal parts?

Surface roughness arises from partially melted powder adhered to surfaces, spatter, staircase stepping, and suboptimal melt pool characteristics. Using finer powders and dialing in ideal processing parameters smoothens finish.

Do all metal 3D printing methods work with the same powders?

While there is overlap, binder jetting generally uses a broader powder size distribution than powder bed fusion. Some processes are limited to certain alloys based on melting points or reactivity.

How are mixed or bimetallic powders made?

Prealloyed powders ensure uniform properties but for composites, physical powder blending or specialized atomization techniques provide blended elemental powder mixes.

How long does it take to change powder material in a metal printer?

A full purge and changeover between significantly different alloys requires 6-12 hours typically. Quick changes between similar materials can be under an hour.


Optimized metal powders enable additive manufacturing processes to construct complex, robust metal components with superior properties. Matching alloy chemistry and powder characteristics to the printing method and component performance requirements is critical to high quality results. By partnering with experienced powder suppliers, end users leverage expertise in both powder production and 3D printing processes to develop robust AM components faster and more reliably.

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