A new report has been released by the Additive Manufacturer Green Trade Association (AMGTA) outlining a new process to make it possible to passivate metal condensate waste for transport and recycling. The AMGTA, originally founded to promote the environmental benefits of additive manufacturing, stated that the new procedure, created by Sintavia, a member of the organization and KBM Advanced Materials, essentially includes mixing powder condensate waste with a removable resin, which makes the waste non-hazardous and thus safe to be transported to a recycling plant. Given the concerns many have around the issue of recycling powder, this could be a significant step forward for the industry in terms of sustainability.
You are probably aware that Powder Bed Fusion (PBF) is an additive manufacturing process especially popular with industries seeking a manufacturing method that allows them to design more complex parts. The aerospace, automotive, and medical sectors are especially fond of this technology, which gives them opportunities no other technologies can provide. However, despite its many benefits, it does have several downsides, including issues related to disposal of condensate created during the process. By looking at it from both environmental and commercial standpoints, the disposal of that hazardous waste has been a challenging question, to which an innovative answer was desperately needed. This special kind of powder condensate is a unique waste stream, that is composed of the splatter sieved out of a reused batch of metal powder.
A New Solution
After researching a solution to overcome the obstacles faced by the hazardous waste, Sintavia developed a new promising process. Instead of mixing it with silicon oil and sand, as it did before, the new procedure involves mixing the powder condensate waste with a removable resin instead. During the testing of the new method, no hazardous situations were reported, and the air quality remained within acceptable limits. Sherri Monroe, the AMGTA’s Executive Director, shows confidence in the new process, explaining, “Today’s report is a must-read for any company involved in laser powder bed fusion metal additive manufacturing. Not only does this new process reduce transportation costs, but it is also reversible, meaning that metal recycling companies can have unsoiled access to the underlying powder once it is received—thus allowing for the potential to recycle waste material that previously had to be put in a hazardous waste landfill.”
Although the tests have already proven that the process works well and no hazardous situations occurred, further trials with other types of powder condensate will be conducted to ensure its functionality. It is already safe to say that this new procedure will be a sustainable new solution that will revolutionize how hazardous powder waste will be dealt with in the future. Brian Neff, the AMGTA’s Board Chair and CEO of Sintavia, concludes, “I hope that other companies adopt this new process, as it will reduce their transportation costs since the underlying material is no longer hazardous. This report is an excellent example of the AMGTA taking a leadership role in developing sustainable use practices for additive manufacturing.” You can downlaod the report HERE.