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Safety with powder based AM
Most people are aware how dangerous the metal powders are. They ar so fine that they can enter through the skin and certainly do not want to be inhaled.

I asked some of these questions at EMO and the solution seems to be to use interchangeable cassettes which are dedicated to a particular type of metal powder. I think most of them use some kind of vacuum system to avoid powder leakage during a cassette change. I think some manufacturers are also monitoring employee health very closely for those involved in using the machines to make sure that the methods of protection they are using are really safe.

I would be interested to hear some more detail on this topic.
Solukon is launching a series of machines for removing powder at the end of the additive process. The machine works in a sealed compartment with rotation and vibration dislodging the powder. There is a specific version for potentially explosive powders such as aluminium and titanium which uses an inert gas in the chamber. The vibration and rotation is geared towards the geometry of the part, so is specific to its shape with the aim of making it as effective as possible. The powder can be reclaimed too, making the process more sustainable. You can see a video of the process at this link
Specialist vacuum cleaners are available for clearing the metal dust, which consider the risk to skin and the possibility of explosion for some metal dust . You can read about a solution from an Italian company here

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DMG MORI use a unit called rePLUG. These can be changed in 2 hours and each rePLUG module is dedicated to a particular material type. This means that it is not necessary to empty the machine to switch materials. You simply get another rePLUG module for the new material.
Although this seems costly, the objective is to minimise machine downtime, wasted emptying the material. Additionally, there is the safety aspect of trying to do this.
The units also have double filters that can be changed as the machine is running so that it is unnecassary to stop the machine to do a filter change. To remove the powder at the end of the cycle, the machine includes a suction house to clean up the parts without opening the machine.


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