Rheological behavior of β-Ti and NiTi powders produced by atomization for SLM production of open porous orthopedic implants

G. Yablokova, M. Speirs, J. Van Humbeeck, J.-P. Kruth, J. Schrooten, R. Cloots, F. Boschini, G. Lumay, J. Luyten,
Rheological behavior of β-Ti and NiTi powders produced by atomization for SLM production of open porous orthopedic implants,
Powder Technology, Volume 283, 2015, Pages 199-209,
ISSN 0032-5910, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.powtec.2015.05.015.

Rheological behavior of β-Ti and NiTi powders produced by atomization for SLM production of open porous orthopedic implants

The growing interest for Selective Laser Melting (SLM) in orthopedic implant manufacturing is accompanied by the introduction of novel Ti alloys, in particular β-Ti for their excellent corrosion resistance as well as favorable combination of high mechanical strength, fatigue resistance and relatively low elastic modulus.

As part of the SLM process for producing quality β-Ti parts powder flowability is essential to achieve uniform thickness of powder layers. In this work the flowability of different gas atomized β-Ti, including NiTi, powders has been studied.

Their rheological properties were compared to those of commercially available plasma-atomized Ti–6Al–4V powder using a newly developed semi-automatic experimental set-up.

Not only the particle size, shape and size distribution of the powders display a large influence on the powder flowability but also particle surface properties such as roughness, chemical composition and the presence of liquid on the surface of the particles.

It was found that plasma or gas atomization production techniques for SLM powder have a considerable effect on the particle topography.

Among the powders studied regarding SLM applicability only rheological properties of the fine size fraction (25–45 μm) of Ti–45Nb didn’t conform to SLM processing requirements.

To improve flowability of the Ti–45Nb powder it was annealed both in air and argon atmosphere at 600 °C during 1 h, resulting in an improved rheological behavior suitable for SLM processing.