Paper Offers Guidance on Proper Handling of Powder-Condensate WasteApril 1, 2021
Sintavia LLC has published an overview of proper handling procedures for powder-condensate waste generated as part of the powder-bed fusion additive manufacturing (AM) process. The paper, Overview of Disposal Procedures for Powder Condensate, was written by Ashley Wallace, Sintavia’s quality and environmental health and safety engineer, in collaboration with the Additive Manufacturer Green Trade Association (AMGTA) and Triumvirate Environmental. It is available to all at www.amgta.org/resources.
“Powder condensate” is the term used to describe solidified particles resulting from the evaporation of metal alloys during the powder-bed fusion AM process. This condensate, a waste stream unique to AM, either is deposited into a collection chamber within the AM printer (considered to be dry condensate) or wet-vacuumed out of the build chamber itself (considered, along with melt spatter contemporaneously removed, to be wet condensate). Both wet and dry condensate may be hazardous and must be disposed of pursuant to applicable environmental regulations.
Previously, powder condensate as a waste stream neither has been a major concern for operators nor studied widely. However, high-volume manufacturers increasingly need to allocate proper resources for the safe disposal of this material. To do so, powder condensate should be classified as a separate waste stream and documented appropriately with cost-effective methods for its disposal. This paper discusses the procedures used in the United States for analyzing and disposing of condensate from the powder-bed fusion process, and provides a real-world example of how one high-volume manufacturer handles this disposal
“Knowing where each condensate stream is going is just as important as the proper preparation of each type of waste,” says Wallace. “As Sintavia has grown, we have recognized that proper disposal of all of our waste streams must be a priority. We have worked with Triumvirate Environmental and other experts within the industry to manage the final disposal of these streams according to regulatory requirements.”
Says Brian Neff, Sintavia chief executive officer: “By sharing what we’ve learned with other industry stakeholders, we hope that these published guidelines can help other powder-bed fusion AM manufacturers as they develop their own processes to determine the safe and proper handling and disposal of powder condensate.”