Industrial gas giant Linde today (21st March) announced that it will launch a new laboratory dedicated to studying and advancing the relationship between atmospheric gases and the manufacture of metal powders.

As demand for novel metal powders grow due to the widespread adoption of additive manufacturing (AM) technologies, Linde is attempting to help accelerate the optimisation process through intensive research into gas parameters. 

An essential process involved in the manufacture of metal powders is atomisation, traditionally achieved via the operation of large-scale, multi-million-dollar metal powder atomisers. 

With such atomisers deemed unsuitable for the observation and analysis of gas behaviour as new parameters are adapted, Linde’s new laboratory will include a compact (1.6m high) atomiser featuring specially adapter windows, lighting, high-speed cameras and schlieren imaging - a visual process used to photograph the flow of fluids of varying density.

Metal powder

Metal powder

The new features permit superior surveillance and data capture of gas parameters as they change before being assessed according to type, volume, pressure, and temperature. 

Commenting on the announcement, Pierre Forêt, Associate Director AM, Linde, said, “As demand grows for new metal powders, more research into the parameters of the gases which are integral to their manufacture is needed to ensure their role is optimised.” 

This optimisation is accelerated by the ability of the new ‘miniature’ atomiser to rapidly switch over to analyser hundreds of combinations within minutes, according to Linde. 

The company’s new technology aims to overcome challenges present within the atomisation of metals for AM, such as the ability to maintain a large volume of gas (2,000 cubic metres per hour) under high pressure (60-bar or higher) and temperature (up to 400C) for even a short period of time. 

These challenges are compounded when considering variable such as metal type and gas composition. 

Additional measures being taken by Linde is the optimisation of nozzle design. By 3D printing prototype nozzles – used to inject the specific gas or gas mixture – the company will offer manufacturers nozzle testing services. 

“Linde’s new laboratory will be the only one of its kind and is testament to Linde’s status as the leading authority on gases for AM,” added Forêt.