Quality Assurance in Powder Technology

With process and component analyses for zero-defect production of sintered components

Various processes are used for the powder-based production of metallic components, which place specific demands on metal powders, process auxiliaries and the respective process steps. For resource- and cost-saving production, it is of great importance to minimize scrap in all process steps, from the powder to the finished component. In order to achieve this goal, the experts in powder technology at Fraunhofer IFAM are continuously working on the further development of existing methods and the implementation of new methods for direct and accompanying process and component analysis.


We offer the right analytical method for each process step

The dimensional accuracy and quality of sintered components depend strongly on the material quality and the selection of process parameters in the individual process steps. When applying a new powder layer in 3D printing processes, for example, the flowability of the powder plays a major role, while pressure and temperature distribution must be taken into account in injection molding or extrusion. Fluctuations can, for example, lead to defects such as cracks, warpage or cavities, which, in the worst case, only become apparent in the supposedly finished component. Frequently, a quality inspection is performed downstream for defect detection. However, this requires additional time and increases costs. Our goal is therefore to reliably qualify materials and to obtain information about the expected quality of the components already during the respective process step as well as to be able to estimate the influence of deviating process parameters. In this way, sources of defects can be identified before the component is finished and countermeasures can be initiated in good time to avoid unnecessary material and energy consumption.

Taking the entire process into account, must for zero-defect production:

  • The quality of the powder, binder and other starting components must be recorded and evaluated, for example, by certified powder analyses or physical-chemical material analysis.
  • The best possible shaping parameters are determined using simulations or data-based prediction models, and constant process data acquisition and evaluation are ensured.
  • Directly in the heat treatment process, the interactions of atmosphere, binder components and metallic powders are analyzed for the reproducible adjustment of material and component properties, e.g. by means of spatially resolved temperature tracking and the chemical analysis of the furnace atmosphere.

In order to achieve this goal and to ensure the quality of the components produced, the researchers in the Powder Technology department use their many years of experience in the field of process and material optimization and work continuously on the further development of existing methods and the implementation of new methods for in-process quality assurance. The intelligent use of the generated data is also increasingly coming into focus. For example, new concepts for automated image evaluation are being developed to evaluate processes that are difficult to monitor by sensors.

Please feel free to contact us. We look forward to supporting you in the quality-assured production of your products.