- Within the scope of Industrie 4.0 additive manufacturing is becoming the key technology. Its goal is automated production of customized products.
- In a pilot plant for powder atomizing, SMS group is gaining practical experience to be able to offer its customers efficient and high-performance solutions in the future.
- On this occasion, the process of atomizing is analyzed in detail and optimized, if so required.
Some decades ago, when SMS group started to gain experience in atomizing iron powder, as used in the processes of spray compacting, hot isostatic pressing and sintering, the vision of Industrie 4.0 was completely unknown. Hardly anyone could even guess or foresee, at that time, the future-oriented potential offered by metal powder. Today, this long-standing experience of SMS group is paying off, and so is the advanced metallurgical know-how of SMS Mevac as well as the vast expertise and competence of SMS in thermal process technology. All of these factors converge in a key technology that paves the way to the ultimate objective within the scope of Industrie 4.0, and that is automated manufacture of individualized products. SMS group is establishing an own pilot plant to produce metal powders for so-called additive manufacturing applications.
Metallic powder of highest quality and purity, consisting of microscopic spheres with a homogeneous size of approx. 15 to 45 micrometers, is the starting material to produce novel workpieces by laser, for instance in a powder-bed procedure. In the SLM (Selective Laser Melting) additive process, metal powder is deposited layer by layer in a closed laser facility and each of these micrometer-range layers is melted at certain spots according to a CAD model. Finally, the loose excess powder is removed and the melted structures remain. The result is complex, three-dimensional metallic components. The products made to this method may have geometrical structures that are not possible using conventional methods, as for example metal cutting.