Reasons for high-costs
Not the commercial priority, so far
However, metal-based AM represents only a small fraction of AM applications. Most applications use polymers and this is where financial and commercial incentives have contributed to focus the technological and R&D efforts.
Polymers and polymer-based composites are now widely available as low-cost feedstocks. In addition, ﬂexible AM platform is being quickly expanded and widely deployed with great success for both small and large-scale part builds, such as cars and buildings structures.
While the technical barriers for polymeric materials have been mostly overcome, additive manufacturing of metallic alloys remains challenging.
One challenge for industrial powder makers desiring to serve the AM market is that there are different optimal powder size distributions for each AM process. Each method requires speciﬁc, narrow powder size distributions.
This is especially troublesome if the requested powders are of experimental alloys for which no other market exists and oversize/undersize powders might sit in inventory for years.
Most AM grade powders are produced using common atomization methods where oversize and undersize powder size fractions of each batch , e.g., about 80–90% for free-fall gas atomization (GA), can limit the yield of AM powder and result in increased prices to cover costs from excessive inventory.
In addition, considerable labor is involved in extensive screening of the full powder yield just to capture only a small portion (10–20%) of salable AM powders from a (typical) broad size distribution by ‘‘standard” parameters . Thus, commercial powder makers often have difﬁculty identifying immediate economic beneﬁt for production of special powders for AM applications and many do not have sufﬁcient in-house process research facilities/staff/time to work on this problem.
Current research objectives are to:
- increase the yield of desired powder in each batch, primarily targeting two size ranges, 45–106 mm for EBM/PBF and 15–45 mm for DLM;
- integrate a robust process sensor (for instance an in situ particle size distribution analyser);
- develop a feedback loop with an actuation device (e.g., an automated atomization gas pressure regulator) for active in-process ‘‘ﬁne tuning” optimisation based on the sensor feedback.
Qualification steps and warrantee
Influence of high-costs:Limit development and testing of more exotic material compositionsSlow down adoption paceLimit range of applicationsLimit material availability
 I.E. Anderson et al., Feedstock powder processing research needs for additive manufacturing development, Curr. Opin. Solid State Mater. Sci. (2018), https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cossms.2018.01.002
 F. Medina, Metal Part Fabrication Using Additive Manufacturing Technologies, workshop presented at RAPID + TCT, organized by Society of Manufacturing Engineers, 2017
 A. Lawley, R.D. Doherty, Rapidly solidiﬁed powder processes: models and mechanisms for atomization and consolidation, in: S.K. Das, B.H. Kear, C.M. Adam (Eds.), Rapidly Solidiﬁed Crystalline Alloys, The Metallurgical Society Inc., Warrendale, PA, 1985, pp. 77–91.