The South African premier scientific and technology research outfit, Council for Scientific Industrial Research (CSIR) has launched a world-class powder characterisation facility to boost the capacity of producers of materials and components made from metal powders.
With the facility the producers of materials and the other players involved in the sector would be able to identify key powder characteristics necessary for specific process conditions. The end-users would also be able to specify powder requirements and this would in turn potentially reduce raw material cost and waste.
The CSIR powder characterisation facility is accredited to International Organization for Standardization (ISO)/IEC17025-2017 quality system standards. It offers critical powder characterisation and analysis in line with internationally recognised standards, including among them, the American Society for Testing and Materials and ISO specifications.
Experts say powders are critical components of the pharmaceutical industry and can be used in a variety of ways including as raw materials, intermediates or final products. But they are notorious for presenting challenges and for this reason scientists and engineers have to continuously work towards obtaining relevant and useful information to support all the necessary steps of the product lifecycle. Therefore, said the experts, a thorough understanding of how the powder behaves is crucial to enable the scientists and engineers to realise some of the industry’s goals such as efficient production and continuous manufacturing processes.
Offering unique capabilities
According to the CSIR, the powder characterisation facility offers unique and broad heat-treatment and metallographic capabilities to serve customers in diverse manufacturing operations. It also takes a standardised approach to the testing, qualification and certification of powder and powder metallurgy processes. This is an integral part of industrial additive manufacturing, and primarily enhances powder metallurgy processes, and qualifies them into the category of classical manufacturing. In addition, the facility hosts testing equipment that allows for, among others:
- chemical composition analysis
- powder sieve analysis
- particle size distribution
- flow rate
- apparent density
- tap density and
- gas pycnometry, a method of measuring the volume of an irregularly shaped solid object.
Benefiting a host of industries
Currently, experts from various organisations across the country use the facility for its range of capabilities from standard high-volume testing to complex materials analysis and in-depth granular dynamics investigations. The results from these procedures benefit a host of industries, including powder production, aerospace, military, nuclear and medical industries.
Some of the powder characterisation facility capabilities include:
- Particle size and shape analysis, SANAS-accredited to ISO/IEC 17025:2017 standard inductively coupled plasma trace elements analysis
- Oxygen and nitrogen analysis, SANAS-accredited to ISO/IEC 17025:2017 standard
- Skeletal density, SANAS-accredited differential scanning caloremeter analysis
Supporting national initiatives
The CSIR said with the advent of metal powder additive manufacturing, the facility offers customers access to one of the nation’s newest and most remarkable testing platforms. The facility currently supports universities and national initiatives such as the CSIR Photonics Prototyping Facility and the Centre for Rapid Prototyping and Manufacturing, which is housed by the Central University of Technology.