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Aluminum powder is produced by atomizing aluminum ingots into aluminum granule. Shape and size are characteristics used to classify the aluminum granule types.
ECKART is today one of the leading manufacturers of metallic and pearlescent pigments. The company has grown steadily since it’s founding in Germany in 1876, and produces currently pigments based on aluminum, brass, zinc, glass, and synthetic mica in 5 countries. After almost 130 years as a family-owned business, the company was sold to ALTANA in 2005. Since then, the new owners have continued to invest in growth and expanded their global operations to include facilities in Zhuhai, China, and Schererville, USA.
Within the production chain, powder is the precursor to metal-based pigments. Atomization is carried out either in the presence of air or under inert gas. The first case produces nodular and semi-spherical particles, the second case spherical particles. The company’s range of powders includes aluminum, copper, zinc, and various alloys.
The company laid the foundation for the atomization of aluminum in Wackersdorf in 1982, when its ﬁrst atomizer went into operation. Today, the facility has four atomizers: one for atomization in air, two for atomization under nitrogen, and a small atomizer for custom-made products.
With the acquisition of the Louisville location in the USA in 1997, ECKART was able to expand the production of aluminum powders and pigments to a second continent. There, an atomizer produces all the different types of powder particles, which range from nodular to semi-spherical.
With these two production facilities, ECKART has positioned itself as a leading custom manufacturer also in the field of aluminum powders, offering the entire range of commercially available materials.
Pyrotechnics is one of the most traditional areas of application for platelet-shaped aluminum pigments. The wide range of pyrotechnic products, from slurries and firecrackers to emergency signals and special effects lighting demands a wide range of special products with predetermined characteristics. This is where ECKART offers quality by tradition and offers sophisticated solutions for all areas of application. Demands on pyro aluminum pigments are varied and depend very much on the area of application.
Among other factors, the reactivity of pyro powders is deter-mined by fatty acid components.
The determining factor for pyrotechnic aluminum powders is their particle size which gives many products their relevant characteristics. Pyro powders with a particle size less than 45 μm are considered fine products; powders with larger particle size are considered coarser products. The color of the aluminum powder allows the categorization for pyrotechnic use; a differentiation is made between dark (black) and light qualities. Consequently, black (dark) powders often have a higher reactivity than light powders.
Aluminum flitters are platelet-shaped aluminum pigments with an average particle size above 150μm. Among other things, they are used for fireworks in theatres.
This is a special test method for pyro aluminum powder and gives an idea of its reactivity. To determine the burning time, a mixture of pyro aluminum powder and potassium perchlorate are burned in a small cardboard tube. The elapsed time is defined as burning time.
The acetone soluble part is determined using extraction and is therefore connected with the surface occupancy of the pyro powders.
One of the main methods of testing aluminum flakes for technical purposes is the determination of the particle size, as the reaction duration and consequently the suitability for a certain quality are mainly dependent on the particle size. The particle size is most effectively determined by filtering of near-mesh material. This process is generally carried out using a wet filtering technique with a suitable solvent.
The active metal content indicates the percentage of the aluminum pyro powders is metal. This corresponds with the aluminum content, which is available for the reaction.