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Case Study

Polymer Powder Recycling

Project challenges

In powder bed fusion AM any powder that is not melted or bound has the potential to be recycled or re-used in subsequent manufacturing runs to reduce cost and material waste. Many users of these AM technologies are currently practicing power recycling and re-use based on internal practices, but there remains a significant need for standards for this topic to provide procedures for evaluating polymer powder quality, best practices for recycling or re-using powder during future builds, and guidance on how use of recycled powder may affect part qualification.  

Business challenge

  • Process Innovation

Sector

  • Defence & Security

Technology or capability

  • Additive Manufacturing

Objective

Help AM users to select an optimum strategy for evaluating their recycled polymer powder and demonstrate how incorporating recycled powder into their future builds can affect the powder performance, hence the final quality of the build.   

Problem

In powder bed fusion AM any powder that is not melted or bound has the potential to be recycled or re-used in subsequent manufacturing runs to reduce cost and material waste. Many users of these AM technologies are currently practicing power recycling and re-use based on internal practices, but there remains a significant need for standards for this topic to provide procedures for evaluating polymer powder quality, best practices for recycling or re-using powder during future builds, and guidance on how use of recycled powder may affect part qualification.  

Solution
  • The aim of this R&D project is to help polymer powder bed fusion users to select an optimum strategy for evaluating their recycled powder and demonstrate how incorporating recycled powder into their future builds can affect the powder performance, hence the final quality of the build.
  • This project will evaluate current practices from the industry, existing standards, and published literature for recycling and re-use of polymer powders. These practices will be assessed by comparing processability of virgin and recycled powder samples in a powder bed system.
Outputs
  • Literature review of existing practices for polymer powder recycling and re-use
  • Dataset from evaluation of virgin and recycled material
  • Report with guidance for evaluation and use of recycled polymer powders

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