東京へ ようこそ! Welcome to Tokyo! I’m very excited to return to Japan with the launch of the new Morphologi 4 range here at Tokyo Big Sight. We’re at Nanotech 2018, and the additive manufacturing technology exhibition running concurrently – but more on that later.
My return to Japan with the Morphologi 4 also marks the completion of a personal journey, which started almost three years ago when I seconded to our Tokyo office to learn more about the customer applications of the previous Morphologi platform, the G3. (In fact, if you tune in to our Morphologi 4 launch webinar later today, you can hear about some of these applications of analytical imaging from our customers themselves). On returning to the UK, I took over the product management reigns on the development of the new platform, whilst Debbie Huck-Jones was on maternity leave. With Debbie back in the driving seat, I now find myself as Paul Kippax’s successor as Product Manager of our laser diffraction portfolio (no small task when the incredible success of the Mastersizer is considered!). It is somewhat fitting, therefore, that I should return to Japan for the launch of the new Morphologi 4, and at an exhibition on additive manufacturing (AM) – as both laser diffraction and analytical imaging have complementary roles to play in ensuring consistent part manufacture, due to the importance of both particle size and particle shape in the manufacturing process.
To ensure the formation of a high-density part, with high structural integrity and low porosity, a high powder packing density during formation of the powder bed is required. The presence of fine material leads to a high packing density, reducing residual stress in the final part and also resulting in a smoother part finish. However, the increased relative importance of powder flowability in AM due to the interaction between the wiper and the powder bed in the recoating process means that a narrow particle size distribution (PSD) is used compared to those used in conventional powder metallurgy. Fine material is more cohesive, with a tendency to agglomerate. Not only does the presence of agglomerates cause a reduction in flowability, they also lead to inhomogeneity in the powder bed. This inhomogeneity can lead to balling, a defect which occurs in regions where there is locally more powder, and results in the molten pool created in the sintering step to become discontinuous and break into separate islands. This, in turn, leads to increased likelihood of part porosity. Irregular particle shapes also reduce powder flowability (interlocking and friction between particles), and their presence reduces the packing density of the powder bed. They are also believed to interact differently with spherical particles on interaction with the laser beam during the sintering step, again, leading to increased part porosity.
Therefore, analysis of PSD and particle shape using laser diffraction and image analysis not only aids understanding of the additive manufacturing process, enabling these physical properties to be optimized, it also allows them to be monitored and controlled to produce consistent, high-density parts of good structural integrity.
We are here, along with the new Morphologi 4 and a range of our instrumentation, at Tokyo Big Sight from 14-16 February – so please do come and say hello! We’d be delighted to talk with you about your application and discuss how we can help.
In the meantime, you can access the video of our new product