Expanded Metal Powder Characterization Capabilities at Pontardawe R&D Lab

As part of its ambitions to improve product development, technical support and advancement, Wall Colmonoy has recently invested £500,000 in its Research & Development Laboratory at its Pontardawe-based European Headquarters. The R&D Lab has developed into a now fully comprehensive suite of analytical equipment for characterizing powders; including laser diffraction, chemical analysis, dry powder and fluid rheometry, optical and electron microscopy. With a recent move into materials for Additive Manufacturing; where powder properties such as particle shape and size are often more critical, there was a need to expand analytical capabilities.

“We know that particle shape directly influences Additive Manufacturing performance and our customers expect a high-quality product with the correct size distribution and a spherical morphology,” said Tom Roblin, Process Engineering Manager. “We have manual microscopy and electron microscopy which allow us to qualitatively check the products we manufacture but we also needed a technique that could provide quantitative data on a statistically representative sample.”

Therefore, the Malvern Panalytical Morphologi 4 was purchased to most simply - measure particle shape and size. The Morphologi 4 provides an automated optical imaging platform capable of analyzing a large number of particles and image analysis capabilities that automatically quantifies the shape and size distribution of those particles.

Morphologi 4Morphologi 4 is frequently used for optimizing atomization conditions and evaluating the impact of process changes on powder properties. It is a valuable tool that provides clear images and consistent results.

“Morphologi 4 is used to quantitatively measure the particle shape of our atomised alloy powders. By investing in this measurement equipment, we can benchmark and improve our current processes and products,” said Roblin. “It will also aid in the development of a new range of Wall Colmonoy powders for Additive Layer Manufacturing. For us, it is a valuable tool that provides clear images, quantitative analysis and consistent results.”

The Morphologi 4 reports shape information using parameters such as elongation, circularity, convexity to quantify particle irregularity and surface roughness. More efficient than manual microscopy and electron microscopy, automated imaging provides statistics on tens of thousands of particles. The Morphologi 4 has aided in the development of a new range of Colmonoy® (nickel-based) and Wallex® (cobalt-based) powders for Additive Manufacturing.

The Morphologi 4 provides clear images of metal particles shapes to evaluate particle irregularity and surface roughnessThe Morphologi 4 provides clear images of metal particles shapes to evaluate particle irregularity and surface roughness.

Wall Colmonoy’s Research & Development Lab is home to state-of-the-art metal powder analytical equipment, including a full SEM / EDS suite, ICP Spectrometer and the Malvern Panalytical Morphologi 4. 

Full Metallographic CapabilitiesFull Metallographic capabilities to view powder particle morphology, microstructures of braze joints, hardsurfacing overlays, and micro hardness indentations.

Full SEM EDS Analysis CapabilitiesFull SEM / EDS Analysis capabilities to allow high resolution and high magnification imaging with semi-quantitative elemental analysis capabilities.

ICP SpectrometerICP Spectrometer to analyze chemical compositions of nickel, cobalt and iron-based alloys.

Thermal Analyzer DSC DTA TGAThermal Analyzer (DSC / DTA / TGA) to measure solidus and liquidus temperature.

More in Malvern Panalytical's Powder Metallurgy and Additive Manufacturing Brochure.