The past 3-4 years has seen a transition in the use of Additive Manufacturing techniques from prototyping to series production. There remain a number of technical challenges that need to be resolved in order to increase adoption of the technology across a wider range of markets, one of which is improved part-to-part consistency. It is recognised that one factor that can influence the consistency of the laser based powder bed fusion process is the ageing of the metal powder used to manufacture parts, that is to say how the properties of the powder change following repeated used in the machines.
In this paper we examine the changes that occur to the characteristics of gas atomised 316L stainless steel powder following mulipe build cycles. We also relate these changes to the build quality of the processed parts in terms of part density, mechanical properties and surface finish