Retech, a division of the Seco/Warwick Group based in Swiebodzin, Poland, and with facilities in New York and California, USA, has announced the development of an integrated plasma gas atomiser (PGA) that is claimed to achieve atomisation rates greater than 10X the rate of currently available technologies.
Retech’s integrated system utilises its Plasma Arc Melting (PAM) technology, in combination with gas atomisation, to process a wide variety of refractory and reactive alloys, amorphous metals, or superalloys. The atomiser can use most feedstock formats – including sponge, compacts, recycled scraps and ingots – and enables continuous processing via an airlock feeder system that doesn’t interrupt melting to recharge. The atomiser also eliminates nozzles, which can be prone to clogs, thus improving reliability and simplifying cleaning and product changeover.
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“At Retech, we are too busy commissioning new furnaces, and trusted by customers with too many trade secrets and defense clearances, to be able to boast of our accomplishments much, so it is a delight to have a new innovation in PGA that we can shout from the rooftops!” stated Earl Good, Retech’s Managing Director and President.
While the company’s suite of melting technologies is capable of melting a wide range of reactive and refractory elemental metals and alloys, the economical production of titanium powder, in particular, offers great potential.
Retech is seeing growing interest in titanium use, with companies finding ever more applications for the metal. This is boosted by the perceived prestige of using titanium, even in consumer-grade products that don’t actually require it, such as cell phone cases, watches, etc.
To support the growth of Retech’s PGA technology, parent company Seco/Warwick Group recently secured a $10 million subsidised loan in order to allow the company to expand PGA equipment manufacturing capabilities to meet the growing demand. The loan comes from the Polish Foreign Expansion Fund 2 FIZ AN, which offers companies co-financing of their foreign investment projects.
“This dovetails perfectly with our recent membership in America Makes, the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute,” added Good. “Sure, I look forward to what the big players will do with the less expensive powder metals Retech will enable, but they already have access to the material and technology, but what really excites me is the opportunity to see what creative young minds can do with this once Retech makes it accessible enough that they can afford to have fun with Ti AM in a garage-tech sense. Take bold steps without fear of mistakes. It is not so much about making the existing tech less costly, the excitement is in the fields where titanium will become a feasible option, where it was not before.”