Journal article Open Access

Multi-faceted monitoring of powder flow rate variability in directed energy deposition

Felicity S.H.B. Freeman; B Thomas; L Chechik; Iain Todd

Powder flow rate is a key parameter in Directed Energy Deposition (DED) processes. During a typical build, if powder flow rate is reduced for just 1 second, 30 mm of melt track is affected. Consequently, even a small variation in powder flow rate can have significant implications on build quality. In this work, the powder flow stability for different types of 316 L steel powders was quantified using a combination of methodologies including offline weight measurements, flow imaging, in-situ build data and coaxial melt pool imaging. Flow rate oscillation was observed, correlated with the periodicity of powder hopper turntable rotation, at sufficient magnitude to cause build quality effects and be identifiable in coaxial melt pool imaging. The implications of flow rate variation on the use of melt pool imaging for closed-loop control are discussed.

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