Dr. Tobias Brune
The SMS group is a group of global players in plant construction and mechanical engineering for the steel and nonferrous metals processing industry with over 14,000 employees in more than 50 global locations. The objective is to provide integrated high-end turn-key solutions for our customers also in the field of Additive Manufacturing (AM). Therefore, SMS is targeting to become a full liner by taking all major processing steps of 3D printing into account, including powder atomization, design and 3D printing.
A full scale powder atomization plant for the production of high-grade metal powders has been built to gain detailed operator know-how and production expertise to develop and produce different AM powders. Therefore the SMS group has set up a 3D Competence Center at their location in Moenchengladbach, Germany to continuously investigate all major steps of metal Additive Manufacturing.
The main goal is to analyze and develop the different influencing factors during atomization and further powder processing and the correlating properties during processing steps. By this full liner approach for the entire value chain of additive manufacturing, SMS can bring the best value to customers.
To realize highest cleanness of the powder the melting and refining of metals and alloys is taking place under vacuum or inert gas atmosphere. The atomizing process with argon or nitrogen, using the close-coupled principal, guarantees defined grain sizes and distribution of metal powders. A self-developed and unique anti-satellite system is used for the needed spherical particle shapes which guarantee good flow properties during the 3D printing process.
Detailed know-how of the atomizing process is necessary to ensure highest quality standards of the powder. Therefore SMS currently develops a CFD model that is able to calculate the particle size distribution for varying process parameters such as steel grade, superheating temperature of melt, primary and secondary nozzle size, nozzle protrusion length, gas flow pressure, gas-to-liquid ratio (GLR) and others. Phenomena like the lick-back will be predicted by the CFD model. In addition a laboratory experimental setup for water atomization has been built-up to investigate the interaction between shock/expansion wave structure and water flow (Schlieren measurement, PDA, high speed observations).
The full liner approach of SMS group ensures in-depth know-how of all major processing steps of additive manufacturing. All the gained technological understanding is transferred into the Powder Atomization Plant. So that customers are enabled to become the leading supplier of the AM industry by offering metal powder at the highest quality level.