Global Advanced Metals (GAM), a US supplier of tantalum, and LPW Technology (LPW), a UK manufacturer of high-quality metal powders for additive manufacturing, have partnered to demonstrate the benefits of using spheroidised tantalum in laser 3D printing – an especially ductile and machinable form of metal made up of tiny spherical particles.
High Flow, High Purity spheroidised tantalum powder. (Image: Business wire)
Tantalum is a rare, hard and highly corrosion-resistant metal that is extraordinarily resistant to heat and wear. The material can be used as an alternative powder for metal additive manufacturing in the medical, dental, military and aerospace markets to offer numerous benefits. In medicine, for example, tantalum can be used to produce medical implants with superior osteointegration, higher biocompatibility and reduced stress shielding than those manufactured with currently used metals and alloys.
According to GAM, however, there are few examples of refractory metals such as tantalum being used across the 3D metal printing industry, and a need currently exists for a more thorough proof of concept demonstrating the benefits of its use.
The agreement with LPW is therefore intended to further develop metal additive manufacturing producers’ understanding and assurance of the factors affecting tantalum powder spheroidisation and how it performs and complies in additive processes.
‘Leveraging LPW’s laser powder bed fusion expertise, developed by viewing additive manufacturing from the perspective of the powder, represents one step of our strategy to extend our offering in tantalum and other refractory metals to the additive manufacturing marketplace,’ said GAM CEO Andrew O’Donovan. ‘We can now measure and share physicochemical data for both our spherical tantalum and the resulting 3D printed part and bring this solution to our partners, for example practitioners, designers and manufacturers of tantalum based surgical implants and other high reliability and critical devices.’
LPW’s COO Ben Ferrar commented: ‘This initiative demonstrates the benefits of two experts in their fields partnering to expand the materials knowledge-base for additive manufacturing and accelerate its adoption for production. The performance of metal powder feedstock is key to building consistent additively manufactured parts and delivering the required mechanical properties.’