How We Developed In-house Powder Extraction Capability for our Additive Manufacturing Processes
Additive manufacturing is a revolutionary manufacturing process and is one of our core technologies that allows us to create extremely small and compact complex structures. We use additive manufacturing alongside our innovative technologies, including modern onboard electronics, position sensing, and brushless DC motors to create industry leading hydraulic components that improve the efficiency of hydraulic systems from around 23% efficient to up to 90%.
One important aspect of the additive manufacturing process that we use, Laser Powder Bed Fusion, is the use of powders as the raw material.
How Does Additive Manufacturing Work at Domin?
Our process of additive manufacturing involves a focused laser directed by a machine into a bed of powdered metal, giving rise to the gradual layering and solidification of intricate structures. This innovative methodology and fusion of laser and powdered metal unlocks a realm of endless possibilities, enabling the creation of complex components with remarkable accuracy and efficiency.
What is Powder Extraction?
The finished product that comes out of a 3D printer often has leftover powder sitting within its printed parts. This residue needs to be carefully removed from the manifolds before they can be used for further processing. The powder extraction process involves thorough cleaning of the printed parts to ensure they are free from excess powder. By performing this task, we ensure the final product meets high-quality standards, it is safe to use for their intended application, and that we capture powder for reprocessing and reuse, which is an important environmental benefit.
Why did Domin Need a Powder Extraction Process?
The manifolds of the valves that we design have several internal areas and curves that trap powder when printing. As these spaces are small and hard to reach, it becomes increasingly challenging to remove the powder without an extraction process. A powder extraction process was needed to remove the power from these complex internal geometries, to prevent the loose powder, which is very hazardous to health and safety, from being present during heat treatment.
Why did Domin Create an In-house Powder Extraction Capability?
Our Production team searched for a powder extraction solution on the market, but existing options were designed for different industries, namely silicon manufacturing, and were prohibitively expensive. Instead, we decided to design and build our own machine to extract powder from complicated internal fluid galleries whilst on the build plate. Through dedication, hard work and the continuous iteration from our expert team, we were able to build this machine in just five months.
Our machine takes a mere 10-minute to run the powder extraction process where it shakes all the powder from the manifolds on two axes with constant vibration. This process has been hugely successful and has removed the costly risk of manifolds being scrapped due to residue powder, risks associated with unprotected powder handling, and reduced component cost without impact to quality.
What are the Benefits of Using Domin's In-house Powder Extraction Capability?
Introducing this manufacturing process means that all powder cleaning is carried out in a clean, confined, and controlled space, which removes hazards through appropriate protective equipment that reduce exposure. We save on cost by eliminating scraps from this process as well as decreasing the time it takes to extract powder compared to doing it manually. Not only would a manual process take longer to complete, but there are also health and safety risks associated with this. Our in-house extraction process is also very scalable, dramatically improving the efficiency of this process.
Our team at Domin are continuously looking for ways to develop advanced, in-house processes to improve the way we work. Our goal is to remain at the forefront of cutting-edge design and manufacturing of hydraulic components, and we are excited to continue innovating and pioneering the future of hydraulics.