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Repurposing of metal support structures to form powder for use in additive manufacturing

Research output: Contribution in Book/Report/Proceedings - With ISBN/ISSNConference contribution/Paperpeer-review

  • Dan Powell
  • Allan Rennie
  • Anthony Molyneux
  • Neil Burns
  • Louise Geekie


Support structures are essential in additive manufacturing to prevent component deformation. Once removed, the support structures are considered to be scrap, fetching as little as 1% of their value per kilogram when compared to virgin powder. Ball milling has been demonstrated to produce metal powder from machining chips, increasing the value of this scrap. Support structures need to be reduced in size prior to being ball milled, best achieved through slow speed shear shredding. The feasibility of breakdown was analysed by cutting four different types of support structures with a guillotine into small chips. Most chips produced were considered to be too large; however, most support structures reduced in size. It is believed repeated shear forces from shear shredding would continue to break down the support structures into viable feedstock for ball milling. Powder suppliers are identified as the potential adopters for this process, potentially reshaping the additive manufacturing recycling process.