Nieka Systems | 3D Printing Inconel 625

Nieka Systems | 3D Printing Inconel 625

October 1, 2019 1 By Ewald Bahringer


(rock music) Borate fusion is a sample preparation technique mostly for mineral analysis and for samples that are
intended for x-ray analysis. The main challenge for diffusion systems is to be able to cycle to
extremely high temperatures and to room temperature
within about 15 minutes up and down over and over, on 24/7 cycles, for our most extensive user. The Nieka fusion machine
allows the end-user to prepare the sample automatically. We use the platinum labware a lot because it can sustain extremely high heat, and doesn’t get oxidized
during the fusion process. But holding these platinum
devices is a challenge by itself. Inconel is interesting
because it can sustain very high temperatures,
temperature cycling as well. One of the main implications
for Inconel here at Nieka is the crucible clips.
Machining them was an option. However, the cost of machining Inconel with some more complex features on them is extremely expensive, so we turned to 3D printing, initially with DMLS. The parts that we’ve
made with DMLS technique were very good, however the lead time
could be anytime between 14 days and 35, 40 days. And this is where we found the Metal X and to our opinion it was
the only option that could be sustainable here cost-wise
and quality-wise as well. Inconel parts that have been
printed with the Metal X and have been tested are
also used in production units in more than 20 countries
at the moment in very harsh environments and the
clips are holding in place. It does not contaminate the sample. There’s no flaking of the clip. Acquiring the Metal X
really made a lot of sense. By having the printing capacity in-house, there’s virtually no lead
time on these parts anymore. The cost per parts has
been reduced dramatically. The new printer pays for itself just by not having to outsource these parts. It was very much like a no brainer. 3D printing in-house allows
our engineers to move from an idea on Monday, and
test the parts on Tuesday which was totally impossible with conventional fabrication techniques. Being able to react very
quickly allows us to be at the forefront of our industry. If we had to go back in time and make the decision to go toward 3D printing, I think we would do exactly the same. It was a big decision and we would do the exact same thing. (rock music)