3D printing or Additive Layer Manufacturing (ALM), as it is usually referred to when using metal powders, is an important growth industry for Xoptix Ltd. Based in Malvern, Worcestershire, Xoptix are renowned for their innovative in-line particle analysis of metal powders as well as cement, oil, pharmaceuticals and food additives.

The additive layer manufacturing process has, over the past few years, featured heavily in the media as its use and popularity has increased. Additive manufacturing is used to create a variety of physical objects by printing layers of material on top of each other which become bonded together to form a solid object. The low energy process allows complex, high quality objects to be made quickly. Designs can be continuously adjusted without significant cost or effort which increases process throughout and productivity. The total market share of this production is expected to reach an estimated £14 billion by 2020, making metal powder particle size analysis using laser diffraction a key focus for Xoptix over the coming years.

Richard Graves, Technical Director at Xoptix explains “It is important for the manufacturing industry to find reliable methods for particle size analysis of metal powders so that they can confidently develop consistent quality products.. Tight control of particle size is important for mechanical performance, flowability and surface finish”. He adds, “Additive layer manufacturing using cobalt-chrome is already being used to make dental and medical implants and Xoptix are assisting in determining the particle size distribution of these metal powders by use of laser diffraction. This is a very exciting time for the team”.

Laser diffraction instrumentation for in-line particle sizing has been in existence since the late 1970s and the technique is well understood and widely used. The technology is based on the correlation of particle size and the intensity and scattering of light. Xoptix design, manufacture and distribute particle sizing products for various process applications and are proud of their heritage in laser diffraction technology.  Intelligent sizing of particles from 0.1 to 3000 micron is made easy with their flagship product the IntelliSizer™ which is a robust and stable unit, with real-time inline monitoring to optimise processes.

To find out more about Xoptix laser diffraction technology and the metal powders industry email mail@xoptix.co.uk or call the team on +44 1684 899345.