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Spheroidisation of metal powder by pulsed electron beam irradiation

Murray, J.W., Simonelli, M., Speidel, A., Grant, D.M., Clare, A.T.
Powder technology 2019 v.350 pp. 100-106
agitation, bulk density, cohesion, energy, homogenization, irradiation, melting, powders, satellites, transmission electron microscopy
A new powder spheroidisation process has been demonstrated using a large-area, pulsed electron beam technique. This was used to dramatically improve the surface morphology of Stellite 6 metal powder. Powder surface asperities up to 20 μm size can be eliminated by melting and incorporation into the near-surface of the particle. Surface finish is significantly improved. Agitation and rotation of particles due to a beam-induced stress wave enables the irradiation of multiples sides of particles, resulting in uniformly smoothed particles after sufficient pulses. Elemental analysis revealed no measurable contamination as a result of the process. Transmission electron microscopy showed a dense layer is produced within a zone up to 3 μm beneath the surface, with a substantially reduced grain size from ca. 2 μm diameter in the bulk to ca. 40 nm. Elemental homogenisation also was accompanied by grain refinement. The irradiated Stellite 6 showed a reduced basic flowability energy (583 mJ compared to 627 mJ for the untreated), explained by reduced particle-particle cohesion and interlocking, and an increased conditioned bulk density of 4.57 g/ml compared to 4.33 g/ml due to satellite/asperity reduction.