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3D print

Technology: 3D printing, from ENEA an innovative plasma process

An innovative plasma process to manufacture powders to be used in 3D printing of complex components for the aerospace, biomedical and robotics sectors has been developed by an ENEA team at the Portici Research Center (Naples), where a prototype plant based on thermal plasma technology has been designed and installed.

The technology uses the energy of plasma to make irregular shaped powders with high "sphericity", which is a significant advantage for good flowability and pack efficiency, the main requirements for 3D printing applications, but also for plasma spray[1] .

 “The use of a source with a high-energy density like plasma allows fast processes and high production flexibility. This makes it possible to create products on demand with rapid manufacture changes, but also to carry out processing when energy costs are lower, reduce inventories and minimize waste production”, explained Sergio Galvagno, researcher at the ENEA Laboratory of Nanomaterials and Devices.

The experimentation was carried out on irregularly shaped Alumina and SS316L steel powders with the aim of exploring and identifying the best treatment parameters for the manufacturing process.

 “The growing diffusion of 3D printing techniques has raised great interest in the development of printing materials. Powders, particularly metallic ones, constitute a rapidly growing market whose production follows different processes depending on the raw materials used and their tailored properties”, concluded Galvagno.

The research infrastructure has been developed by ENEA over the years[2] and will be used in future research programs to test the process on new materials and improve the plant's production efficiency.


For more information please contact:

Sergio Galvagno, ENEA - Nanomaterials and Devices Laboratory,


[1] Spruzzatura termica, processi di rivestimento in cui dei materiali fusi (o riscaldThermal spraying, a coating process in which molten (or heated) materials are sprayed by a gun flame onto a surface to be coated. The "feedstock" (precursor to the coating) is heated by electrical (plasma or arc) or chemical (combustion flame) means.

[2] Through various research programs such as the PON TEDAT and Tripode2 projects and the recent ENEA-MI Program Agreement ET RSE 2019-2021.