AISI 316L stainless steel powder is a type of stainless steel powder that contains molybdenum as an alloying element. It is part of the 300 series of austenitic stainless steels. Here are some key details about AISI 316L stainless steel powder:
- Composition: Fe, Cr (16-18%), Ni (10-14%), Mo (2-3%), Mn, Si, P, S
- Properties: Excellent corrosion resistance, good heat resistance, high ductility and strength, non-magnetic
- Applications: 3D printing, injection molding, additive manufacturing, metal injection molding
- Particle Shape: Spherical, irregular
- Sizes: 15-45 microns, 10-100 microns, others
- Production Methods: Gas atomization, water atomization, plasma atomization
AISI 316L powder offers a versatile material for fabricating complex metal parts using advanced manufacturing processes like selective laser sintering, direct metal laser sintering, and binder jetting. Its key characteristics like printability, corrosion resistance, biocompatibility, and high strength make it suitable for applications across aerospace, automotive, medical, chemical processing, and more.
Types of AISI 316L Stainless Steel Powder
There are a few main types of 316L stainless steel powder categorized by production method and particle characteristics:
|Type||Production Method||Particle Shape||Particle Size|
|Gas Atomized||Gas Atomization||Mostly spherical||15-45 microns|
|Water Atomized||Water Atomization||Irregular, satellite particles||Up to 100 microns|
|Plasma Atomized||Plasma Atomization||Highly spherical||15-45 microns|
|Carbonyl Iron Powder||Thermal Decomposition||Spherical||Under 10 microns|
Gas atomized 316L powder produces the most spherical particles and tight particle size distribution. It has excellent flowability and spreadability for additive manufacturing.
Water atomized powder is more irregular in shape and contains satellite particles. It may have wider distribution of particle sizes.
Plasma atomized powder has very high sphericity and flowability. It is ideal for printing fine features and smooth surfaces.
Carbonyl iron powder has the smallest particle size of under 10 microns. It is used for sintering applications.
Characteristics of 316L Stainless Steel Powder
Here are some of the main characteristics of AISI 316L stainless steel powder:
- Particle shape: Spherical, satellite-free particles have the best flowability. Irregular particles may cause poor powder spread during printing.
- Particle size: Typical range is 15-45 microns. Smaller sizes below 10 microns can cause dusting. Larger particles above 100 microns can cause poor surface finish.
- Particle size distribution: Powder with a tight distribution ensures uniform melting and consistent material properties.
- Flowability: Spherical powders have excellent flow measured in terms of apparent density and Hall flow rate. Irregular powders may have lower flowability.
- Tap density: Higher tap density improves powder bed density and final part density. Values range from 3.5-4.5 g/cc.
- Purity: High purity with low oxygen and nitrogen content is needed to avoid porosity and oxidation. Medical grade powders have the highest purity.
- Moisture content: Moisture absorption can cause powder agglomeration and affect flowability. Moisture content should be kept below 0.3%.
Applications of 316L Stainless Steel Powder
AISI 316L powder is used across the following applications due to its excellent corrosion resistance and high-temperature strength:
|Aerospace||Aircraft components, turbines, engine parts|
|Automotive||Valves, pistons, turbocharger rotors|
|Medical||Implants, prosthetics, surgical instruments|
|Marine||Boat propellers, offshore platforms|
|Chemical||Pumps, valves, pipes|
|Oil & Gas||Downhole tools, wellhead parts|
Other applications include food processing equipment, heat exchangers, cryogenic vessels, architecture, jewelry, and more. 316L’s biocompatibility makes it well-suited for dental implants and medical devices.
The fine resolution and geometric freedom enabled by 3D printing processes expands the design space for 316L stainless steel parts across industries.
Specifications of 316L Stainless Steel Powder
316L stainless steel powder conforms to the following specifications:
|ASTM Standard||ASTM A240, ASTM F3056, ASTM F3301|
|Ultimate Tensile Strength||~485-620 MPa|
|Yield Strength||~170-310 MPa|
|Melting Point Range||1370-1400°C|
|EH (Extra Hard) Grade||Oxygen Content 0.1% Max|
|SH (Soft/High Purity) Grade||Oxygen Content 0.03% Max|
The composition and mechanical properties may vary between different powder suppliers. Higher oxygen content can negatively impact ductility and corrosion resistance. Extra low oxygen powder is available for critical applications.
Design Considerations for 316L Powder
Here are some design tips when working with 316L stainless steel powder:
- Minimum wall thickness should be 0.8-1 mm to ensure sufficient strength
- Angled surfaces of 30-45° should be used instead of vertical walls
- Generous fillets and curves help reduce stresses
- Porosity can be minimized with optimized process parameters
- Post-processing like hot isostatic pressing (HIP) improves densification
- Surface finishing steps may be required for cosmetic and functional reasons
- Support structures are needed during printing to avoid deformation
Careful part design and orienting the build helps avoid surface defects, residual stresses, and distortion. Process parameters can also be tuned to enhance material properties.
Suppliers of 316L Stainless Steel Powder
There are a number of reputable 316L stainless steel powder manufacturers and suppliers:
|Company||Country||Grades Available||Particle Sizes|
|Sandvik||Sweden||Osprey 316L, EH, SH||15-45μm|
|Carpenter Powder Products||USA||316L-Si, 316L-Mo||15-45μm|
|LPW Technology||UK||316L-Vacuum Melt||15-53μm|
|CNPC Powder Group||China||316L||15-100μm|
Prices range from $50-$150 per kilogram based on order quantity, particle size distribution, shape, and purity. Custom particle sizes and compositions are also available.
Installation, Operation, and Maintenance of 316L Powder Printers
Working with 316L powder for additive manufacturing requires proper installation, operation, and maintenance procedures:
- Printers should be installed in temperature and humidity controlled environments per manufacturer instructions
- Inert gas flow rates should be set correctly to avoid oxidation during builds
- Regular calibration of the recoater mechanism is needed to ensure uniform powder layers
- Leaks in the system can lead to moisture absorption and powder degradation
- Unused powder can be stored in sealed containers with desiccant bags
- Prevent fire hazards by frequently cleaning the system and removing powder spills
- Follow recommended preventive maintenance schedules for optics, filters, and motors
- Damaged or worn-out components like recoater blades and pistons should be replaced
- Always wear PPE like masks, gloves, goggles when handling fine powders to avoid health hazards
Proper installation, environment, and upkeep are essential for repeatable high-quality printing with 316L stainless steel.
How to Choose a 316L Powder Supplier
Here are some tips on selecting a 316L stainless steel powder supplier:
- Quality standards: ISO 9001 and AS9100 certifications demonstrate quality management processes
- Powder characterization: Data for particle shape, size distribution, flow rate, density, and composition should be provided
- Process control: Consistent powder morphology and cleanliness through optimized manufacturing processes
- Testing capabilities: In-house testing for particle size, chemical assays, microstructure is preferred
- Industry experience: Number of years supplying powder to aerospace, medical, automotive sectors
- Range of powders: Capability to produce custom alloys, particle sizes for different applications
- R&D competency: Metallurgy expertise to tailor powder characteristics and qualification testing
- Responsiveness: Quick turnaround on small R&D samples for evaluation
- Customer service: Technical expertise in powder metallurgy and additive manufacturing
- Certifications: ISO 13485 for medical, AS9100 for aerospace industries
- Pricing: Balanced based on quantity, lead time, customization of powder
Samples should be evaluated to verify powder quality and printability before large volume orders.
Advantages and Limitations of 316L Powder
|Excellent corrosion resistance||Lower wear resistance than cobalt chrome alloys|
|Bio-compatible for medical uses||Susceptible to pitting and crevice corrosion|
|High ductility and impact strength||Post-processing may be needed to improve surface finish|
|Oxidation resistance up to 800°C||Porosity issues can arise with poor process parameters|
|Good weldability and formability||Expensive compared to carbon steel powders|
|Available with extra low oxygen for better performance||Higher thermal conductivity than nickel alloys|
316L powder strikes a balance between mechanical properties, weldability, and corrosion resistance at relatively higher costs. Process optimization helps maximize densification and material properties.
Q: Is 316L powder safe for medical implants?
A: Yes, 316L powder is highly biocompatible and commonly used to print orthopedic and dental implants. Ensure medical grade purity and cleanliness standards are met.
Q: Does 316L powder require stress relieving?
A: Stress relieving heat treatment is recommended after printing to eliminate residual stresses. Typical treatment is 1-2 hours at 650°C.
Q: Can you mix 316L and 304L powder grades?
A: It is not recommended as the different material properties can lead to unpredictable performance.
Q: What particle size is best for printing fine features with 316L powder?
A: Finer powder typically 15-25 microns is preferred for high resolution and surface finish. But smaller particles have lower flowability.
Q: Is 316L corrosion resistant in sea water environments?
A: Yes, 316L has excellent chloride corrosion resistance and is widely used in marine applications.
Q: What is the difference between 316 and 316L grades of stainless steel?
A: 316L has lower carbon content (0.03% max) which improves corrosion resistance for welding and additive manufacturing.
Q: Does 316L powder require hot isostatic pressing (HIP) post-processing?
A: HIP helps improve densification and material properties, but is not mandatory. Parameter optimization can also minimize porosity.
Q: What is the shelf life of 316L powder?
A: If stored properly in sealed containers, 316L powder has a shelf life of 1-5 years before requalification is required.
Q: Is 316L powder reusable?
A: Yes, 316L unused powder can be collected, sieved, and reused. But reused powder has higher variability in characteristics.