Additive manufacturing (AM), commonly known as 3D printing, has revolutionized the way we design and produce objects. From intricate metal devices to robust aerospace components, the possibilities seem endless. At the heart of this transformative technology lies the meticulous process of layer-by-layer construction, driven by digital designs. However, as with any burgeoning industry, challenges arise – and in the realm of metal 3D printing, the efficient recycling of used powders stands out. Elcan Industries, with its innovative solutions and commitment to sustainability, is leading the charge in addressing this concern.
The Digital Blueprint of 3D Printing
The journey of creating a 3D object begins with a digital design. This can be crafted using computer-aided design (CAD) software or derived from scanning an existing object. The design is then segmented into ultra-thin layers, which guide the 3D printer in its meticulous construction.
Several methods can be employed to bring these digital designs to life:
Powder Bed Fusion (PBF): This method involves spreading metal powder layer by layer. A laser or electron beam then melds and fuses the powder, gradually forming the object.
Binder Jetting: Here, a liquid binding agent is selectively deposited onto a thin layer of powder particles. The object is constructed layer by layer, with each deposition.
Material Extrusion: Spooled polymers are extruded through a heated nozzle. The object is built layer by layer, with the material solidifying post-extrusion.
Each of these methods offers unique advantages and is tailored for specific applications, materials, and industries.
The Imperative of Recycling in Additive Manufacturing (AM)
The high costs associated with virgin powders make the efficient recycling of used powders in the AM industry a pressing concern. As the popularity of additive manufacturing soars, the demand for sustainable and cost-effective recycling solutions intensifies.
Enter Elcan Industries with its Hi-Sifter Additive Manufacturing Powder Recycling System. Elcan’s groundbreaking system is tailored to sieve at 44 microns and finer. In some instances, the Hi-Sifter can even sieve down to as fine as 5um. It ensures the removal of oversize or partially sintered particles that might form during the printing process. Such particles, if left unchecked, can disrupt the layering inside the 3D printer, jeopardizing the quality of the final product.
While other sieving machines often compromise on precision to maintain high rates, Elcan’s has a more uncompromising approach where we believe that if a powder specification is 44 microns, it should be sieved at that exact size. This precision not only guarantees quality but also minimizes waste, championing a more sustainable approach to additive manufacturing. Traditional sieving machines struggle to maintain high rates and efficiencies at these sizes, leading to the use of 53, 63, and even 74-micron cuts to achieve separations. We categorize this method of sieving as “cheating the hole.”
Elcan’s Leap into the Future: A New Particle Testing Laboratory
Elcan Industries’ dedication to the AM sector is further underscored by its recent venture – a state-of-the-art lab and particle testing laboratory. This facility brims with modern lab equipment tailored for fine particle size analysis and R&D evaluations. A standout feature is a dedicated station for recycling additive manufacturing powders using the Hi-Sifter industrial sieving machine.
By offering a space where innovation and research converge, Elcan Industries is poised to drive sustainable advancements in additive manufacturing.
A New Era in Manufacturing
The aerospace sector, with its intricate and weight-sensitive components, exemplifies the transformative potential of additive manufacturing. The technology’s capability to craft weight-saving, complex geometric designs is game-changing.
Additive manufacturing represents a significant shift in design and production paradigms. By harnessing digital processes and pioneering recycling methods like those of Elcan Industries, it promises a flexible, efficient, and sustainable future for manufacturing.
We cater to both small-scale needs and large-scale operations spanning multiple truckloads.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Elcan’s Hi-Sifter:
1. What is the Hi-Sifter AM Powder Recycling System by Elcan Industries?
The Hi-Sifter is an advanced sieving machine designed specifically for the additive manufacturing industry. It’s tailored to sieve at precise specifications, ensuring the removal of oversize or partially sintered particles from used powders.
2. How does the Hi-Sifter ensure precision in sieving?
Unlike other sieving machines that might sieve at larger sizes to achieve smaller separations, the Hi-Sifter sieves at the exact size specified. For instance, if a powder specification is 44 microns, the Hi-Sifter ensures sieving at that exact size, guaranteeing both quality and sustainability.
3. Why is the Hi-Sifter’s approach better than “cheating the hole” in sieving?
“Cheating the hole” refers to the practice of sieving at sizes larger than the specified size to achieve separations. This can compromise the quality of the recycled material. The Hi-Sifter’s approach ensures that the integrity of the recycled material is maintained by sieving at the exact specified size.
4. How does the Hi-Sifter compare to ultrasonic or vibratory sieving machines?
The Hi-Sifter’s design and technology allow for more precise and efficient sieving, especially at finer specifications. While traditional ultrasonic or vibratory sieving machines might struggle to maintain high rates and efficiencies at these sizes, the Hi-Sifter excels, ensuring optimal quality, rates, yields of over 98%, and a significant reduction of waste.
5. What makes the Hi-Sifter more sustainable than other sieving machines?
The Hi-Sifter’s precision ensures that used powders are recycled effectively, reducing waste. By ensuring that powders are sieved at their exact specifications, it promotes a more sustainable approach to additive manufacturing, maximizing the reuse of materials and minimizing the need for virgin powders.
6. How does the Hi-Sifter contribute to the quality of the final 3D printed product?
By removing oversize or partially sintered particles from used powders, the Hi-Sifter ensures that the layering inside the 3D printer is consistent. This is crucial as such particles can disrupt the layering process, compromising the quality of the final product.
7. Is the Hi-Sifter suitable for all types of metal powders used in additive manufacturing?
The Hi-Sifter is designed to handle a wide range of metal powders used in additive manufacturing. Its precision and efficiency make it a versatile solution for various applications within the industry.