Ferrous and Nonferrous Powders

Metal powders produced by mechanical and chemical methods are summarized in Fig. 4 and 5, respectively. Ferrous powders are of prime importance to the P/M industry because they account for more than 80% of all powder shipments (tonnage). The production and usage of iron and steel powders in North America has grown at a compounded rate of about 6% per year from the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s, reaching more than 350,000 tons in 1996. The production of iron and steel powders in Japan and Europe during the same year was 173,000 and 114,000 tons, respectively.

Fig. 4 Mechanical methods of powder production. Source: Ref 3
Fig. 5 Chemical and electrochemical methods of powder production. Source: Ref 3

Most ferrous powders are currently produced by water atomization of liquid steel. This process, pioneered in the 1960s by the A.O. Smith Company, has since been adopted by the main iron and steel powders producers in North America, who have developed a wide spectrum of elemental and prealloyed powders designed for specific needs of P/M and powder forging applications. The techniques used to manufacture stainless steel powders, tool steel powders, and high-alloy materials are also described in the Section of this Volume devoted to the production of iron and steel powders.

The production of nonferrous powders is covered in this Section. Copper and copper-base powders, aluminum powders, nickel powders, and tungsten powders are among the many types of metal powders whose production techniques are described and discussed.

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