These advanced powders will be able to be used in a number of high value manufacturing applications such as cutting tools, medical implants and a range of aerospace and automotive components.
The work is part of a four-year European research and development project titled ‘PilotManu’ which began in 2013 and is due for completion in September 2017. The project is well underway and has already experienced excellent results regarding the performance of the advanced powders for use in abrasive tools and the development of the pilot plant.
The €5.3 million project, which is partially funded by European Union’s Framework Programme Seven (FP7), involves ten partner organisations across seven countries, bringing together various capabilities such as process engineering, materials investigation, product development and prototyping, characterisation, application testing and process economics. The project partners include CPI alongside MBN Nanomaterialia, IMDEA Materials Institute, +90, Putzier, INOP, Manudirect, IMPACT INNOVATIONS GmbH, Matres and Diam Edil SA.
PilotManu is manufacturing the nanostructured powders using a proprietary high energy ball milling technology developed by lead partner MBN Nanomaterialia. The technology will allow for the manufacture of innovative advanced powders with ultrafine crystalline structures, meaning that products can be optimised to enhanced strength, reduce weight or provide excellent wear, corrosion or thermal resistance. The achievements from the project will create a number of new product opportunities in not only the automotive and aerospace sectors but also in other high value markets such as healthcare and energy amongst others.
However, currently low productivity and high material costs remain a major barrier for the commercialisation of advanced powders that are manufactured by high energy ball milling techniques. PilotManu is working to remove this barrier by scaling-up the manufacturing process and improving production efficiencies.