The Australian-British concern, the world's third largest multinational mining and metals company, Rio Tinto has successfully developed and tested a new water-crushed steel powder intended for 3D printing at its Rio Tinto Fer et Titane (RTFT) metallurgical complex in Sorel- Tracy, Quebec.
Water-sprayed steel powder provides mechanical properties superior to traditional metal production methods, paving the way for advances in 3D printing technology for metal parts.
Rio Tinto Iron and Titanium Managing Director Stephane LeBlanc commented:
“This is a new generation of steel powders designed for 3D printing at the RTFT metallurgical complex, where we have more than 50 years of experience in the production of steel and cast iron powders. Our new grade of powder steel for additive manufacturing, produced with the largest water spray gun in North America, provides very competitive raw materials in the growing 3D technology market. ”
Full-scale industrial parts have already been produced and tested, including parts for liquid iron casting equipment at Rio Tinto's Sorel Tracy plant, which is the first in the industry.
RTFT operates an open-pit ilmenite mine on Lake Tio near Le Havre-Saint-Pierre, on the northern coast of Quebec. The ore is used to produce high quality titanium dioxide, cast iron, steel and metal. RTFT has been in Quebec for 70 years and is a pioneer in the extraction of iron from ilmenite.