Hardmetals, also known as cemented carbides, have played a huge and often overlooked role in modern industrial development. From the first application in wire drawing dies in the 1920s, hardmetals are now universal, with application areas ranging from metal cutting and the machining of wood, plastics and composites to the production of glass bottles, aluminium cans and ball-point pen tips.
Currently under exploration is the use of Additive Manufacturing to produce hardmetal parts. Hardmetal production is an industry sector with sales in excess of $20 billion year, and should Additive Manufacturing be able to take a small percentage of this production from conventional processes such as press & sinter Powder Metallurgy and Powder Injection Moulding (PIM), this could represent an extremely rewarding opportunity.
In a report published in the latest issue of Metal Additive Manufacturing magazine, Dr.-Ing. Johannes Pötschke reviews the fundamentals of hardmetal production and evaluates research undertaken to-date in order to identify the most viable Additive Manufacturing processes for hardmetals.