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Mintek Metallurgy receives new atomisation, alloy development equipment

25th July 2023

By: Schalk Burger

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

     

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Mining and minerals technology research organisation Mintek has received an Amazemet rePowder ultrasonic atomisation and alloy development system, which can be used to create metal powder from any alloy in any feedstock form, even in small quantities.

Mintek Advanced Materials Division chief engineer Dr Hein Möller announced the receipt of the machine from Poland-based Amazemet by Mintek's Physical Metallurgy Group on its business network platform LinkedIn page.

"The rePowder ultrasonic atomiser machine is being installed during the week of July 24 and should be operational within a week if all goes well. It is used to make metal powders, which are important for three-dimensional (3D) printing and coatings. South Africa is currently importing all metal powders for additive manufacturing."

The machine is also suitable for making small castings and small quantities of powder, which is important since Mintek is leading the development of new applications for platinum group metals. These materials are very expensive, so being able to process small quantities of material is crucial, he said.

"The rePowder machine is also ideal for making samples of new alloy compositions. Our group has computational materials science expertise to develop new alloys using numerical modelling. In order to validate the models experimentally, small quantities of sample alloys can be made using this system," Möller said.

The machine's technical specifications on the Amazemet website, through a link he shared with Mining Weekly, show that the machine can also do alloy prototyping, and raw elements or scrap material can be used to prototype new alloying systems in the form of cast or powder.

Further, the rePowder machine can recycle failed printouts, unused powder and scrap from other processes can be turned back into fine powder.

"RePowder, unlike gas atomisation systems, uses ultrasonic vibration for metal atomisation. Metal is poured or melted directly on the vibrating part resulting with tiny droplets being ejected from the surface.

“Droplets solidify in surrounding inert gas atmosphere forming powder particles. The result are highly spherical metal powders with narrow particle size distribution, with up to 80% being good to use in desired processes," the company said on the webpage.

Additionally, induction melting is used to process alloys with melting points up to 1 300 °C. For example, the machine can process alloys with a relatively low melting point and volatile materials that tend to evaporate in the plasma, such as tin, zinc, magnesium, lead and aluminium alloys, as well as materials with high thermal capacities and conductivities, including precious metals such as copper, silver and gold alloys.

The machine can use arc or plasma melting and is suitable for working with all medium- and high-melting point materials, including ferrous alloys, titanium, nickel, platinum and iridium-based alloys, as well as refractory metals such as tungsten, tantalum, vanadium, molybdenum, niobium and rhenium, among others, including high-entropy alloys, which are metal matrix composite powders and amorphous metals, Amazemet said.

Edited by Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online

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