Using POWMET powders for additive manufacturing processes guarantees quality standards comparable to those obtained by using LEGOR GROUP’s MASTER ALLOY products for the traditional production technics, such as microfusion and mechanical work.
Choosing POWMET for additive manufacturing means:
- more freedom in the product design and customizations
- time-to-market reduction
- easier prototyping stage
- easier process in case of small quantities/batches production
SPACE TO CREATIVITY OF DESIGNS
There are no more barriers to the realization of jewelry designs. Any kind of complex form and intricate shape can now be reproduced exactly as the designer intended. No soldering is required to aggregate different, elaborate parts together. Full space and freedom is given to the designer’s creativity. Pieces that before could not be achieved at all or were achieved through different and usually difficult multiple step procedures, can now be realized through PLM: just from the designer’s idea over the virtual CAD/CAM piece, directly into reality within one production step.
Design by Beatriz Biagi
PLM technology is incredibly flexible and suitable for both massive, as well as light pieces. The process is perfectly feasible and economical for the creation of only single, one of a kind items or small production series. This feature allows for an unleveled potential for customization and personalization, which would simply lead to the skyrocketing of costs in any other traditional production process. In the PLM process costs and procedures remain the same if ten similar or ten different designs are produced in one batch. Consequently the designer can easily decide to manufacture a full batch of jewelry pieces with small differences from each other, so that each piece is unique while the whole production capacity is fully exploited in the meantime.
When a piece is produced using PLM technology, the first object that materializes from the powder has a comparably rough surface. Higher efforts on surface treatment compared to traditional lost-wax-casting are required. These involve known process steps like micro-sandblasting, grinding and polishing. This is the trade-off for obtaining a product with an unleveled surface quality: after polishing, the surface quality of the pieces is superior to the one achievable in lost-wax casting and comparable to the quality of highly-densified parts attainable by fabrication. These results are accessible thanks to the high level of densification obtained during the PLM process: well-known issues like gas porosity (from atmosphere, scrap material, metal-mould reaction, crucible interaction, and other factors) or shrinkage porosity (from insufficient spruing) simply can not occur. Furthermore the microstructure of a piece obtained with the PLM technology is characterized by superior level of fineness and homogeneity, which can never be reached by a cast product. Together with significantly higher hardness that usually is obtained for the same alloy type with the PLM process, this translates into easier final polishing properties and higher long-term surface quality.
Microstructure comparison between a lost-wax-casted object in gold 18K, 3N color and PM-AU101P after PLM processing (Optical Microscopy, 200X Magnification)
Microstructure comparison between a lost-wax-casted object in silver 925 and PM-AG101P after PLM processing (Optical Microscopy, 200X Magnification)
Microstructure comparison between a lost-wax-casted object in bronze and PM-BR101P after PLM processing (Optical Microscopy, 200X Magnification)
TIME AND COSTS SAVING BENEFITS & ALMOST IRRELEVANT ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT
The PLM technology will allow to skip several process steps which were “a must” in the lost wax casting process, such as preparation of the wax or resin prototypes, preparation of the flasks to cast the first metal prototypes, preparation of rubber molds and others. By utilizing PLM, the designer will see its creation become a real metallic piece directly from the CAD/CAM design, be it a one of a kind item for direct sale or a prototype for conventional casting, saving a significant amount of time and costs for the prototyping and production process. The environmental impact is also reduced with the PLM process by skipping of many process steps which require higher consumption of electrical energy and other consumable materials such as investment, rubber, crucibles, gas and others. Additionally, the need to refine metals is reduced by a great extent when adopting the PLM technology, which allows an almost 100% reutilization rate of the non-consumed and non-contaminated metal powder used for the powder bed. Material used for support structures is not contaminated and can be simply remelted and used for other purposes.