Metal AM case study – Powder Cost Vs Material Costs Per Part


LPW’s latest case study highlighting confidence in commercial reuse of Inconel 718 AM metal powders


Why the cheapest powder doesn’t give you the cheapest parts
LPW is focused on developing and manufacturing the highest quality metal powder for the Additive Manufacturing market. ‘Quality’ for LPW means consistency of supply, full traceability and reliable material performance. Consistency of supply and traceability are factors which are controlled by robust Quality Management Systems, optimised manufacturing methods and trusted supply chains, however material performance is driven by the properties of the powder itself.

One of the key benefits of AM, over conventional manufacturing methods, is the ability to reuse a batch of material which has been through the process. The business case for reusing powder is strong, the more times you can reuse a batch of powder the lower the final cost per part is, on the basis of less powder ‘wasted’. The number of times a material can be reused is often determined by the user, or a perceived industry standard, but either way material performance in delivering as-built parts is typically the key metric.

Influencing the final cost per part
If we consider the final cost per part, there are actually a number of key factors which can influence that number. As with conventional manufacturing, material is generally seen as the highest cost factor in ongoing production, however powder reuse means that final cost per part does not have to reflect initial powder cost per kilo.

Two other key factors are how many viable builds can be completed from a single batch of powder, and how many parts can be produced in each build. The number of parts produced in a single build is entirely application specific and depends on the size of the part and the size of the available build volume. The number of builds that can be completed for a single batch is dependent on how quickly the powder breaches the specification limits. At this point we must consider the influence of powder evolution, how a material varies from initial specification.

For further details, view case study