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Ames Laboratory’s Powders for Additive Manufacturing

Dept. of Energy

Photo credit: Ames Laboratory

Atomization Stream

Additive manufacturing using 3D printers reduces machining costs and material waste, but requires high-quality, uniform-sized metal powders. Ames Laboratory researchers are refining gas atomization techniques to better control particle size, shape, and chemical composition like the powder particle pictured here. Molten metal flows through a nozzle (inset right) where it’s subjected to high-pressure supersonic gas jets that break the metal into micron-sized spherical particles. The inset left is captured from high-speed video of an actual atomization run. Ames Laboratory is also pioneering modeling techniques that allow the simulation of nozzle designs and material compositions to suggest pathways to even higher-quality powders.

Ames Laboratory, one of the U.S. Department of Energy’s national laboratories, is recognized the world over for its leading collaborative research in the theory, design, synthesis, processing, and characterization of innovative, energy-relevant materials. Ames Laboratory leads the Critical Materials Institute, a DOE Energy Innovation Hub, that focuses on technologies that make better use of materials and eliminate the need for materials that are subject to supply disruptions.

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