Wall Colmonoy accelerates productivity improvements with metal 3D printing

By printing its own atomisation parts on-site, Wall Colmonoy has accelerated productivity improvements that would have been impossible without metal 3D printing.

The fast printing of parts means that new iterations can be printed and tested quickly, producing data to drive fast-paced learning.

Chris Weirman, Director of Technology states: “Being able to print our own designs has sped up our process enormously. We can print various nozzle-sized parts as soon as we like, instead of having to wait a few weeks to order a new one. This vastly reduces the amount of downtime and helps to reduce the delays with specifying and ordering from an external supplier. Best of all, we now have the freedom to try new designs and ideas that are directly designed for the result we are looking for, allowing us to innovate and improve within a very short space of time.”

In the atomisation process, molten metal is passed through a nozzle which releases the molten stream into a jet of nitrogen gas. The molten metal is then transformed into fine droplets that cool down to form a fine powder. Powder characteristics can be manipulated using different inserts and nozzles, which influence the velocity of gas. These in turn influence the properties of the powder such as particle size and uniformity.

The team at Wall Colmonoy decided to print their own atomizing nozzles, experimenting with new designs to produce finer powders. Increasing the yield of fine powder has become increasingly important. Customers are looking for increasingly small particles for improved flowability and for best results when using metal powders in additive manufacturing.

Printed in 17-4PH on the Desktop Metal™ Shop System™, these parts mark Wall Colmonoy’s first foray into metal 3D printed parts for its own innovation projects. The project is expected to be the first of many as Wall Colmonoy examines all workflows for opportunities to drive productivity and product improvements.

The Desktop Metal™ Shop System™ investment complements the existing Precision Components business which encompasses an established casting facility and state-of-the-art machine shop. By offering binder jetting as well as more traditional manufacturing routes, Wall Colmonoy continues to remain an integral part of its customers’ supply chain.

Image: 7-4PH Metal 3D Printed Atomization Nozzle with Experimental Internal Features

Contact: Warren Lewis