The availability of 3D printing resources like printers, replacement parts and filament types has grown exponentially over the last few years. While there are now scads of different 3D printers on the market, the growth has been just as phenomenal in other areas – 3D printing materials for instance.
Praxair has something new up its sleeve in this area. The company has developed a brand new metal powder that will be heading to the market soon.
The New Titanium 3D Printing Powder
While conventional home-based 3D printers might not be able to use metal powder, there are plenty of models available that can. Most of these are designed for commercial or industrial use, but there are some that are affordable enough for home or small business use.
The new titanium powder offers the ability to make things stronger, harder and better.
The most important thing to understand here is that this marks the first time that titanium powders have been available on the market in an affordable format for high-volume production needs. The new product is designed primarily for use in the medical, aerospace and automotive sectors, but it will undoubtedly find uses in other fields, as well.
Titanium is one of the most prized metals in a number of areas for many reasons. It’s very strong. It’s very light.
It resists corrosion, and it’s generally biocompatible, as well. It can be used just as easily for creating a hip replacement as for spacecraft parts.
The problem has always been the metal’s high melting point, which makes it difficult to use at larger scales in 3D printing.
The new powder was developed by Praxair in conjunction with Ames Laboratory (you probably know the name from their work with NASA and other government agencies). “Titanium powders are the future of high quality 3D printing,” stated Iver Anderson, the lab scientist at Praxair.
“Titanium powder made with this technology has huge potential to save manufacturers materials and money. Creating titanium powder of high quality at great volumes was what we materials scientists called the Holy Grail of gas atomization.
Our invention of an in-stream melt heating guide tube was critical to boost the melt temperature by at least 100 degrees C, allowing adaption of water-cooled, clean melting technologies normally used to melt and cast strong, reliable aerospace parts.”
Don’t look for the powder to hit the market just yet. It’s currently still in research and development, although it’s being fast tracked for a commercial debut as soon as possible.
That debut will likely come through Iowa Powder Atomization Techniques (now purchased by Praxair). Rest assured that it will eventually come to market, though – that’s the entire goal of the development team.