The new life of mineral powders


From May 29-31, the CEIPM2023 Powder Metallurgy Conference, in its 8th edition, will bring together nearly 70 speakers on this key manufacturing technology for industries such as automotive, aerospace, biomedical, electronics, and energy.

It is a production process that relies on pressing and sintering (heat treatment) of metal powders to produce high-quality parts with complex shapes, extremely tight tolerances and reasonable costs, such as gears, engine components, medical implants, cutting tools, and structural parts, among other applications.

Donostia-San Sebastián Technology and Science Park will be a venue for the exchange of experience between leading industry and research specialists (research centers and universities) in this alternative to foundry for the creation of metal parts. One of the participants will be the doctor Jose Manuel Torralba, University Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at the University Carlos III of Madrid and Director of the Materials Institute Imdea, accredited to the Community of Madrid (the second Spaniard to receive the Ivor Jenkins Medal, considered for his award among the 14 most important scientifically in the world of science and materials in their specialty). Starting with Torralba, he compares the process to “the way ceramics have been made for thousands of years, using particles, since they cannot be melted and deformed or molded plastically.”

very present

A concept (and a word) already present in our lives, as summed up by Torralba: “We can create four historical milestones starting at the beginning of the twentieth century with cemented carbides. The second achievement, after the Second World War, was the massive development of steel components for the automotive industry. At the end of the twentieth century, Machining processes have been developed with a density close to theory, with great control over the innate structure, such as hot isostatic pressing, “spark plasma sintering” or powder injection molding.Already in the 21st century, additive manufacturing has appeared, which has been a revolution in the development of metallurgical materials new.”

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This round of “ages of powder metallurgy” It will be updated at CEIPM23, organized by CEIT and Tecnalia, with Dr. Chandra Sainz, Senior Investigator, Advanced Manufacturing Group in Powder Metallurgy and Lasers, Department of Materials and Manufacturing (CEIT) and Physician Inigo Agote, Platform materials responsible for extreme conditions, Industry and Mobility Unit (Tecnalia), as responsible. Three days to review and promote new discoveries in powder manufacturing, additive manufacturing, and other processing technologies, lightweight materials, functional materials, rigid and ultra-hard materials, structural metal powder parts, characterization techniques, modeling, applications, etc.

Agote, Project Manager of Tecnalia and PhD in Chemical Sciences of UPV / EHU, highlights the importance of the event “given the conditions of collaboration between research and industry, to improve the contribution to society with a technology that takes in cars but is applied in all kinds of industrial activities. With parts In the final rises, that is, they then need little post-treatment so that they can be used, with very effective cycles, and are therefore very sustainable (a lot of ‘pumice’ is created in a mechanical process, not in this case).” Consumer to the energy sector, from a bit of a homemade drill or a small part of our mobile phone to a part of a spacecraft… Metal powder has been with us for a long time, with challenges to turn into opportunities such as its use in electric cars or its application in Industry 4.0.

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Carbides, tungsten … By themselves, or in company with others, metallic powders are essential in cases, as Agote points out, “for application in the ‘hot parts’ of the aerospace industry, the medical sector or the defense industry. In any case, they are particularly suitable For pieces that are not very large but geometrically complex. A whole host of possibilities that the San Sebastian meeting will reflect upon. which will include 15 presentations and round tables.

Elite search

An international research scenario, as Torralba points out, “Spain ranks second in Europe, as in industrial applications, as will be demonstrated at the conference, an excellent example of the importance of public-private cooperation.”

A context in which the researcher, in addition to the above-mentioned institutions, points to the importance of the UC3M Powder Technology Group as an outstanding leader in this field, in which Torralba highlights aspects such as “cemented carbides for cutting materials,” or all the “additive manufacturing” technologies for 3D metals. The methods they promote For materials with better properties compared to others: Reaching a maximum material yield is very important in cases such as biomaterials, aerospace industry, defense, highly competitive sports, etc.

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