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University automates powder sieving for 3D printing

powder sieving
20 Jun 2024  |
The University of Amsterdam (UvA) is consistently ranked among the world’s best universities in global rankings and has a leading reputation in international science. The UvA’s Faculty of Science is supported by a dedicated Technology Centre comprised of 20 research support engineers who help researchers solve complex technical challenges using innovative solutions.

The Technology Centre uses additive manufacturing as many of the research projects require equipment that is not commercially available. With only a small team of engineers and multiple research projects to support, the Technology Centre was keen to ensure engineers spent their time on the tasks where they added the most value.

An area ripe for efficiency improvement was the time-consuming task of powder sieving for 3D printing. The engineers had to manually sieve each batch of powder, which took a significant amount of time – a batch of 10 kilograms of powder took 90 minutes to sieve. During that time, engineers were prevented from working on other activities.

During a successful trial of the Russell AMPro®Lab Sieve Station, the research support engineers could see how much it improved the efficiency of powder sieving and purchased the machine. The small batch powder reclaim unit uses a non-vibratory sieve with a feed control system to decant small bottles of reclaim powder and sieve and remove oversize contamination. The bottle-to-bottle system also has connections for customers’ bottles on feed, fines, and oversize.

Engineers have gained valuable time they would otherwise have spent manually sieving powder. A whole batch of powder now only needs about 10 minutes of the engineer’s time, compared to the 90 minutes it took previously. The unit has also allowed engineers to sieve explosive powders without creating health and safety risks. The machine contains an inert gas purging system with a sensor for monitoring oxygen levels before and during the sieve cycle.

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Established in 1934, Russell Finex has enjoyed 85 steady years of successful growth to become an international group employing over 250 direct employees with annual sales exceeding £40 million ($54m). As a worldwide leader in...