Recent changes in technology are now covered in a significant ASTM International standard used to measure the particle size of metal powders. The standard, ASTM B330, Test Methods for Estimating Average Particle Size of Metal Powders and Related Compounds Using Air Permeability, is under the jurisdiction of Subcommittee B09.03 on Refractory Metal Powders, part of ASTM International Committee B09 on Metal Powders and Metal Powder Products.
The metal powders tested by ASTM B330 are used extensively in both large and small precision parts in the automotive industry, as well as in various types of machinery and lighting products. According to Frank Venskytis, an independent consultant and a past chairman of B09, the instrument that was referred to in the earlier editions of ASTM B330 is no longer available, nor is it supported with parts and service.
“Preliminary data indicates that the new instrument is more precise, using sensitive pressure transducers instead of an eyeball-estimated water column height to measure the pressure, which is the critical parameter that the particle size calculation depends upon,” says Venskytis. “Use of the new instrument, notice of its availability and the method for using it, are now included as part of ASTM B330.”
Venskytis also notes that the new instrument has become especially important in the refractory metals industry to assess the quality and efficacy of powders used in powder metallurgy practices.
“Many ceramics and lighting phosphor producers will also use B330 to estimate the particle size of their powders,” says Venskytis. “Many of these users have in-house testing and quality control laboratories in which B330 is used to control manufacturing processes and to certify powder products.”
Interested parties are invited to take part in an interlaboratory study using the new instrument per the instructions in the revised ASTM B330. B09.03 is interested in both donations of metal and related powders, as well as participation in testing.
Information on the older equipment has been retained in the standard, as numerous instruments of that type are still in use.
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