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Materials & Manufacturing (MM) | metals & ceramics processing (mcp)

A wide array of processing techniques are available in metals and ceramics processing. Spray metal forming, hot pressing, and extruding are a few examples of the processing techniques commonly utilized for alloy development.  Additionally, materials characterization, mechanical testing, corrosion testing and analysis, and failure analyses are routinely conducted in the department.

Spray Metal Forming (SMF)
The Metals and Ceramic Processing Department conducts research in the development and processing of high performance aluminum alloys produced by the Spray Metal Forming Process. Spray metal forming is a rapid solidification process that involves the conversion of a molten metal stream into a spray of droplets by inert gas atomization.  The droplets cool rapidly in flight and, while in a semi-solid state, are deposited on a plate or mandrel producing a preform (billet, plate, or tube). The resulting pre-form has a very fine grain size that allows for the alloy to have superior mechanical properties over similar alloys that use conventional ingot metallurgy. The three main areas of focus are high temperature aluminum alloys, ultra-high strength aluminum alloys, and hypereutectic aluminum-silicon alloys. The alloys are produced on a research scale plant. The plant is capable of producing billets, plates and tubes. The melt capacity is 50 kg (110 lbs) of aluminum alloy. Billets with diameters of 150 to 250 mm (6 to 10 inches) can be produced with lengths up to 400 mm (16 inches) depending on the billet diameter. Plates can be produced that are 150 mm (6 inches) wide by 300 mm (12 inches) long with thickness up to 20 mm (0.8 inches). Tube sizes range from 75 mm to 230 mm (3 to 9 inches) inside diameter with wall thickness up to 25 mm (1 inch). A powder feeder may be used to inject particulate reinforcement into the gas stream near the point of atomization to form a metal matrix composite with uniform distribution of the injected particulate.

SMF Product
Product: SMF
SMF Furnace  SMF Furnace
  • "High Strength Aluminum Alloys" - iMAST Newsletter Issue 2005 No. 1, article by Timothy J. Eden, Ph.D. (on page 3 of the newsletter)

Hydraulic Hot Pressing & Ceramic Processing
Hydraulic Hot Press with vacuum and inert atmosphere capabilities is used for powder consolidation and laminated ceramics at high temperatures. The 100 ton press with 5 inch diameter ram is only limited by die material/design.  Current temperature maximum is 1900°C. Typical vacuum level is 10-4 torr during operation. Tape cast slurry mixing, casting, and lay-up can tailor ceramic composition throughout a consolidated – pressed part. Recent components fabricated from hot pressing include metal matrix composites (Cu-diamond, Cu-SiC, and Cu-SG) for heat sink applications, ceramic cutting tools, and laminated ceramic components.

Hydraulic Hot Press

Materials Development & Analysis
The department conducts materials development through an understanding of processing/structure/property relationships in various alloys including titanium, stainless steels, carbon steels, aluminum, and high-temperature metals.  Specifically, alloys with target mechanical properties are developed through the use of heat treatment, mechanical processing, or chemical modifications. Metallurgical analysis of these alloys is accomplished through a range of microscopy techniques (i.e. optical microscopy, scanning electron microscopy (SEM), electron dispersive spectroscopy (EDS), orientation imaging microscopy (OIM), transmission electron microscopy (TEM), X-ray diffraction (XRD), etc.) and mechanical testing (tensile, compression, Charpy V-notch impact, fracture toughness, high- and low-cycle fatigue, fatigue crack growth rate, etc.). Fractographic analysis is often employed to understand crack initiation and growth behavior in both tested materials and failed service components.

Cast Titanium
Cast Titanium
SMF Aluminum
SMF Aluminum