Carpenter Technology has been granted a patent for a powder container system that includes a pressure vessel for holding powder and pressurized gas, an outlet with a valve, and data sensing and logging capabilities. The system is designed for use with additive manufacturing machines and allows for monitoring and logging of powder and gas parameters, with the ability to transmit data to a remote monitoring station. GlobalData’s report on Carpenter Technology gives a 360-degree view of the company including its patenting strategy. Buy the report here.
According to GlobalData’s company profile on Carpenter Technology, powder bed fusion was a key innovation area identified from patents. Carpenter Technology's grant share as of September 2023 was 55%. Grant share is based on the ratio of number of grants to total number of patents.
Powder container with data sensing and remote monitoring capabilities
A recently granted patent (Publication Number: US11767159B2) describes a system for additive manufacturing (AM) that includes an AM machine and a transport container. The container consists of a pressure vessel that holds a quantity of powder for AM and a quantity of pressurized gas. The container also features an outlet through which the powder can flow, as well as an outlet valve for selectively opening and closing the outlet. Additionally, the container is equipped with data and/or sensing means to monitor and log various parameters of the powder and/or the pressurized gas. The AM machine is designed with an inlet that can connect to the outlet of the container.
The patent further explains that when the outlet valve of the container is opened and the inlet valve of the AM machine is opened, the powder is able to flow between the container and the AM machine. The data sensing and/or logging means of the container include sensors such as an oxygen sensor, humidity sensor, temperature sensor, strain gauge, weighing device, location sensor, GPS tracking device, accelerometer, electrostatic sensor, and pressure sensor. These sensors are used to monitor and record important information about the powder and gas.
The container is equipped with a control unit that can continuously or periodically record and log the sensor readings. It also includes a communications module that can transmit the sensor readings or log files to a remote monitoring station. The remote monitoring station can either periodically poll the communications module for sensor readings or send an SMS message to the container, prompting the communications module to reply with a list of sensor readings or log files. The remote monitoring station is capable of monitoring multiple containers and collating the data to identify trends across various containers' readings.
The pressure vessel of the container is described as having a part-conical main body portion leading to the outlet. The outlet itself can be an outlet tube terminating in a radially outwardly extending connection flange or a vacuum flange coupling. An interlock device is provided between the container and the AM machine to ensure proper operation. The container may also include a pilot line communicating with the interior of the pressure vessel and/or a supplementary gas supply connected to the pressure vessel. The pressure vessel can contain either a quantity of metal powder for AM or a quantity of inert pressurized gas.
Overall, this patented system offers a comprehensive solution for additive manufacturing, providing a container with monitoring capabilities and a means to transport powder and gas to the AM machine. The system's ability to record and transmit sensor readings allows for remote monitoring and analysis, enabling efficient and informed decision-making in the AM process.