Praxair will start commercializing Ames laboratory’s titanium powder on a large scale for 3D printing aerospace, automotive and industrial components.
3D metal printing with titanium can lower manufacturing and raw material costs, as well as improve fuel efficiency.
Titanium based materials offer an attractive combination of low density, good mechanical properties and good corrosion resistance and hence is used in a number of aerospace and industrial applications.
Praxair is using Ames lab’s gas atomization technology to make titanium powder with processes that is more efficient than traditional powder making methods.
Traditionally ultra-fine titanium powder was nearly impossible to produce from the molten state because liquid titanium was readily contaminated by dissolved gases. Further, it could not be contained by normal ceramic melting crucibles, which eroded rapidly to the point of spilling through.
“Our invention of an in-stream melt heating guide tube was critical to boost the melt temperature by at least 100˚C, allowing adaptation of water-cooled ‘clean’ melting technologies, normally used to melt and cast strong, reliable aerospace Ti parts,” said Iver Anderson, Ames Laboratory scientist. “This new hot nozzle made possible precise feeding of highly energetic close-coupled atomizers for efficient production of fine Ti powders.”
“Until now, there’s been limited availability of fine, titanium powder in the marketplace to create parts,” said Dean Hackett, vice president of advanced materials and equipment for Praxair Surface Technologies. “That won’t be the case for long as we move into full-scale production of aerospace-grade, fine, spherical, titanium powder starting in the third quarter of 2015. In addition to supplying the powder, Praxair also offers the associated industrial gases to the additive manufacturing industry.”
Image credits: Ames laboratory