Process development for H13 tool steel powder in binder jet process
Abstract: Additive manufacturing brings versatility and new degree of freedom for part design and manufacturing possibilities. Binder jetting is powder bed printing technique that does not require direct energy transfer rather binding powder metal particles through mechanical entanglement by use of the organic binder. The polymer chains in the solution hardens when heated thus creating a green part. Green parts are sintered in high temperature to adhere metal powder particles together creating a solid body. Binder jetting still developing to its full potential in scalability and material portfolio. This thesis aims to contribute know how in process and material development of H13 tool steel in very fine particle size distributions from -16 µm to -10µm. Process parameters as well as sintering cycle developed specifically for H13 fine powders. With 52 samples printed, sintered in four different temperatures and analyzed material properties such as density and hardness to evaluate how particle size distributions affect printing process, densification and shrinkage in the sintering. Density of the green body has been evaluated through measurements of dimensions and weight, sintered density was analyzed by Archimedes method and light optical metallography. Trials for the processing and evaluation of the powders concluded that it is possible to use ultra-fine PSDs in binder jetting process with good results, this opens up opportunity for increased sustainability and profitability for powder manufacturing industry. Particle size distribution of -10 µm has outperformed the -16 µm in areas of relative density of the green body, sintered density and hardness. Although superior performance, the -10 µm requires higher ultrasonic intensity and lower spreading speed to achieve homogeneous powder bed. For the -16 µm powder it is worth noting that it is possible to bring up green density with further process development. Although materials presented high hardness in as printed state compared to that of PIM manufactured parts, achieved hardness is not satisfactory for the applications of the alloy and requires heat treatment corresponding to customer requirements.
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