Wenchao Du, Guanxiong Miao, Lianlian Liu, Zhijian Pei
Objective of this study is to prepare the binder jetting feedstock powder by spray freeze drying and study the effects of its parameters on the powder properties. Binder jetting additive manufacturing is a promising technology for fabricating ceramic parts with complex or customized geometries. However, this process is limited by the relatively low density of the fabricated parts even after sintering. The main cause comes from the contradicting requirements of the particle size of the feedstock powder: a large particle size (> 5 μm) is required for a high flowability while a small particle size (< 1 μm) for a high sinterability. For the first time, a novel technology for the feedstock material preparation, called spray freeze drying, is investigated to address this contradiction. Using raw alumina nanopowder (100 nm), a full factorial design at two levels for two factors (spraying pressure and slurry feed rate) was formed to study their effects on the properties (i.e., granule size, flowability, and sinterability) of the obtained granulated powder. Results show that high pressure and small feed rate lead to small granule size. Compared with the raw powder, the flowability of the granulated powders was significantly increased, and the high sinterability was also maintained. This study proves that spray freeze granulation is a promising technology for the feedstock powder preparation of binder jetting additive manufacturing.