Gas atomization is one method of producing metal alloys powders. It is the act of reducing a liquid metal stream to small droplets using high-speed, airflow. Then it solidifies into powder. Because of its high purity and low oxygen content and controllable particle size, powder production is a key direction for high-performance, special alloy powder preparation technologies.
Laminar flow Atomization Technology
German companies proposed the laminar-atomization technique. The technology offers significant advantages over conventional nozzles. It has an improved atomizing mechanism that produces high atomization efficiency and narrow powder particle size distribution. The cooling speed is 106-107K/s. The atomization pressure is 2.0MPa. Copper, aluminum, and 316L steel are all acceptable. The atomization process uses Ar or N2 to mix the metal medium. Copper, aluminum and 316L stainless are produced. It has several disadvantages. For example, it is hard to control the process, unstable and produces a small amount of metal (the metal flow rate is below 1kg/min). This makes industrial production difficult.
Ultrasonic tightly-coupled atomization technology
Ultrasonic close coupled atomization technology optimises the structure in the close-coupled, ring-slot-nozzle so that its outlet velocity exceeds sound speed and increases the mass flow rate. The powder’s average size is about 20m. For metals such as stainless-steel, the standard deviation can drop to 1.5m.
The technology can be used to produce either amorphous and fast cooling powders. The current technology represents the next development of closely coupled atomization technology. This equipment can be widely utilized in metals like iron, copper, zinc, magnet materials and hydrogen storage.
The effects and mechanisms of hot gas-atomization have been the subject of extensive research by a US company. To atomize the silver alloy, and gold alloy at a pressure of 1.72MPa, a US company heated the gas up to 200 to 400°C. They found that the average particle size decreased and the standard deviation increased. The hot gas atomization technique can be more effective than conventional atomization technologies, decrease gas consumption and is easier to apply on existing atomization equipment. The technology is promising.
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