Materials

5N Plus enters 3D printing sector with metal powder portfolio

Chemicals and engineering materials firm 5N Plus has announced its move into the 3D printing market with the launch of a new metal powder portfolio.

The Montreal-based company first started its engineered powder activities in 2014, focusing initially on micro-electronics and semi-conductor applications. Having gained experience in these markets and invested in widening its product portfolio over the past few years, 5N Plus is now expanding into the additive manufacturing sector to grow its customer base.

According to 5N Plus, its aim is to become a leading engineered powder supplier to the 3D printing industry.

5N Plus’ background in engineered powders

5N Plus is a global producer of engineered materials and specialty chemicals, headquartered out of Montreal Canada, with R&D, manufacturing, and commercial centers dotted around Europe, the Americas, and Asia. The company’s materials are used in a variety of sectors including advanced electronics, pharmaceutical, optoelectronics, renewable energy, health, and other industrial applications.

Since its foundation, 5N Plus has gained experience and taken on board the learnings from the smaller, technologically challenging markets it initially entered, before deciding to expand its capabilities. Over the past three years, the firm has secured several programs within hand-held electronic device platforms, as a result of investing in its product portfolio of high-performance spherical powders. These spherical powders have low oxygen content and uniform size distributions to suit electronic device applications.

Now, the firm believes it is ready to expand its activities into the 3D printing sector, focusing on metal additive manufacturing applications. According to data from 5N Plus, the global market for powders used in metal 3D printing applications is predicted to reach $1.2 billion by 2025, with the aerospace, medical, dental, and automotive industries expected to benefit the most from metal additive manufacturing technologies.

5N Plus aims to become a leading engineered powder supplier to the 3D printing industry. Image via 5N Plus.
5N Plus aims to become a leading engineered powder supplier to the 3D printing industry. Image via 5N Plus.

5N Plus’ new metal powder portfolio for AM

For the additive manufacturing market, 5N Plus has developed a new portfolio of engineered powders based on copper and copper-based alloys. The materials are engineered with optimized structures to exhibit controlled oxygen content and ultra-high purity, alongside a uniform surface oxide thickness and controlled distribution of particle size.

The firm will also access additional engineered powders from external sources which aren’t offered within its own home-grown portfolio. By bringing these products under acquisition, 5N Plus’ portfolio will span across 24 different metal alloy compositions with melting points ranging from 60-2,600 degrees celsius, one of the broadest in the market.

Cobalt chrome parts 3D printed by Protolabs. Photo via Protolabs.
Cobalt chrome parts 3D printed by Protolabs. Photo via Protolabs.

Advancements in metal additive manufacturing

New powders are being continually qualified for metal 3D printing, with new applications for the technology regularly arising.

Earlier this year, digital prototyping specialist Protolabs launched a new cobalt chrome superalloy for its metal laser sintering process. The heat, wear, and corrosion-resistant material is intended to disrupt industries such as oil and gas, where customized cobalt chrome parts were not previously possible. Shortly after, metal additive manufacturing specialist Amaero announced that its high-performance 3D printing aluminum alloy, Amaero HOT Al, had entered the final stage of international patent approval. The newly developed alloy has high scandium content and can be heat treated and age hardened after 3D printing to improve strength and durability.

Meanwhile, Colorado-headquartered additive manufacturing material developer Elementum 3D received an investment from Sumitomo Corporation of Americas (SCOA) to expand the marketing and sales of its proprietary metal powder, which incorporates ceramics to enable improved additive manufacturing performance.

Most recently, LB-PBF systems leader EOS released eight new metal powders and processes for use with its M 290M 300-4, and M 400-4 3D printing systems, consisting of one PREMIUM and seven CORE products. The powders are characterized by their Technology Readiness Levels (TRLs), a technological maturity classification system introduced by EOS in 2019.

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Featured image shows 5N Plus aims to become a leading engineered powder supplier to the 3D printing industry. Image via 5N Plus.

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