Saturday, September 25, 2021

What Does Advanced Manufacturing Mean to You?

 It has been almost a year since I have found it worthwhile to publish something new. That is because a good portion of money is being concentrated on a topic known as Advanced Manufacturing. The obtuseness of this title leaves people scratching their head because it is so vague. Actually because of this many variations have developed that are designed to serve a particular market. This market started with plastic irregular objects and now advancing in many directions. In other words, something for everyone. Just change a few things to make the process work. 

So how do we understand what we need to get started? Well first of all, we need to have a purpose in mind. Reduction of weight is a good thing because our present transportation system uses a fuel that contaminates the atmosphere.Therefore, if we can reduce the weight of the vehicle; we use less  fuel and contamination is reduced.The second objective is to make either things that cannot be made by other processes or to develop the advanced manufacturing process to make parts cheaper than are made by an existing process. The automotive and the space industry are two areas that are either fast changing or developing that are being driven by these two objectives.

So, how do we develop this new process? First we need a container that houses the object or objects to be made. this is normally a box of any size , to contain and build the smallest to the largest of parts. One area where the process is growing is for small items, such as dental products or for parts  for medical purposes, that fit in small, confined spaces.On the opposite side of the spectrum, containers or  boxes are being constructed to produce components for space ships and for turbine engines. Boggles the imagination. 

The next thing required is material to construct or build the irregular shaped part.Again, the process began by using plastic in powder or liquid form to spray on a platform that can  move incrementally to permit thin layers of sprayed droplets to deposit and solidify layer by layer in a pattern that is generated from a three dimensional model, using a computer. Metallic inks for circuit boards are now being made using this technology. Plastic parts are currently being made in many differing processes. Powders now are available for making many small parts today and could be used to make parts for off road equipment soon.What is left to complete the system is a heating source. Today, lasers and electron beam guns are used for this process, although there are processes that use induction heating to repair or to make parts. 

Every day new developments are made that provides new avenues for the advancement of the technology. In addition, a process called modeling is now being more widely used in the design of complete systems made of different kinds of component parts, using basic principles of physics and chemistry. This will make possible new motor designs and artificial organs for humans and animals. The technology is mind boggling, and prepares the way for a new century becoming more and more electronically oriented.

Saturday, November 28, 2020

 New Lessons Regarding Lubrication and Binding of Alloy Sub-Micron Powders

    It has been awhile since I have had the urge to write an article on metallurgy. Perhaps it was the pandemic or even though we are entering a space age era, a lack of going forward during this period of time. Actually advanced manufacturing has overwhelmed the technical realm and I am not the biggest fan of advanced manufacturing, not that I am not a believer of advancement, but I am resistant of letting computers do it for us.

    For instance, there is much publicity of advancements that are occurring to lighten materials and to introduce new lighter materials. This occurs through mostly two dimensional design, but more ideally through complex three dimensional design, with precision  possible only using a computer.

    Yes there are advantages to this, as well as disadvantages. One advantage is that it makes possible design of new alloys without conducting as much lengthy and costly experimentation. However, all of this is dependent on the experience of the individual that is operating the computer. However, if done correctly and with execution of essential experimental background work, then strength and toughness may be increased. In magnetic materials core loss and design of magnetic components can be maximized. Yes, even corrosion, the most expensive problem in modern society, can be reduced.. So yes, there are benefits, but dangers as well.

    The reason for all of this to happen is because in most advanced manufacturing processes where laser or electron beam technology is employed for fusing or melting the powder, a fine layer of sub-micron powder is distributed throughout the surface  of the area to be built.Unfortunately, fine sub-micron powders do not flow well. Therefore a binder is required to increase their size and agglomerate them into larger composite spheres to satisfy this requirement. This brings me back 40 years ago when I was in charge of a research section at Hoeganaes Corp. One of my projects was to develop a lubricant that would improve the flow of  stainless steel powders.These powders were larger, but not quite speroidal in shape. We at that time worked with a Lanza powder that permited us to reduce the quantity of lubricant admixed to 0.5 %. 

        Now MagnaTech is currently working to develop a new refractory metal powder that is manufactured as sub-micron powder and the additives are also sub-micron in size. Therefore the requirement is to find an additive that not only agglomerates these powders but also  provides sufficient lubrication to permit flow within a restricted die cavity. Therefore, MagnaTech also finds itself into development of lubricants with good binding properties.Right now there are a few other small companies that are starting to enter this field too If these new advanced manufacturing processes are to succeed,  a  free-flowing powder must be developed that will bind the sub-micron particles into a powder sufficiently large and ideally spherical to provide the uniform layers that will be fused or melted incrementally that will eventually build to form a solid shape of required dimensions MagnaTech sees a niche for itself in development of new binder /lubricants to resolve one of the problems currently causing problems in some advanced manufacturing processes.

Monday, April 27, 2020

New Nitrogen and Oxygen Testing Capability at MagnaTech

It has been a couple of months now since my last correspondence. At that time most of the activity in the materials world was concentrated on developments in new technology in advanced manufacturing to accelerate the electric powered automobile and subsequently over the road vehicles and advanced high altitude, high speed aircraft.
It is amazing how one very little molecule can put most of this development on back burner and now concentrate on a cure or a vaccine to counteract the effects of the Corona virus.All of a sudden the concern for the environment returns to the back burner  because now there is an oversupply of fuel and emissions from operating vehicles has decreased because of a large portion of the population restricted to the home, for the most part. However, the word is back burner and that is a dormant stage, ready to return as the times change and the threat of the consequences of the Corona virus disappears..
How does all of this affect the operation of MagnaTech P/M Labs? MagnaTech was conceived with the   objective  to do research and consult to improve powder metallurgy processes or materials, concentrating in development of powder metallurgy materials and processes oriented toward stainless steels, low alloy steels and their processes and soft magnetic materials and their processes. To permit development, MagnaTech equipped a laboratory that would assist in measurement of properties of new materials developed or improvement in properties resulting from improvement in processing conditions. This laboratory has now been in existence for 36 years. The equipment contained in the laboratory has been either purchased or constructed to measure properties that most other test laboratories do not measure. All equipment is operated and run with test standards and procedures established by ASTM International.
The purpose of this test equipment is to permit MagnaTech to develop material and processes for other companies that do not have the resources to do the development or the work required to advance their marketing or to improve internal processing processes to permit the company to either introduce new products or to improve the properties of the parts or powders that they manufacture.
Since one facet of MagnaTech was to advance developments in magnetic materials and performance, it is equipped to assist in the development in performance of magnetic materials. One of the requirements for the improved performance of soft magnetic materials includes reduced contamination from interstitial elements such as carbon, nitrogen, oxygen and sulfur. MagnaTech therefore purchased gas analyzers to permit the measurment of theses interstitials to improve soft magnetic materials.More recently there has been increased need to determine the nitrogen content within stainless steels and high temperature aerospace materials.The equipment within the MagnaTech Laboratory is capable of making these measurements. Test results are backed up by running standards certified by NIST and conducting measurements according to ASTM International Standards. MagnaTech normally reports results from material received for testing within three days MagnaTech has just updated these analyzers and is looking for new business. If you require these kind of data, MagnaTech assures repeatability and precision of data with fast response to your needs. Should you be interested in these MagnaTech services please contact Ken Moyer at 856-786-9061 or by e mail at MagnaTech is a small veternan operated company.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Excitement About High Entropy Alloys

Currently materials research has slowed down, unless you are into advanced manufacturing. Today almost all technology is focused on computers and mechanical devices, such as robots. In our opinion, this is a dangerous way to proceed. Already kids are begining to have difficulty in writing and spelling, and are more confused than ever by the new math being introduced. This is the beginning; what is going to happen when most of the nation becomes hooked on this new technology that takes the human factor from the big picture?
However, materials research is still needed for improvement in light car performance, solonoids, magnetic applications, deep sea technology, space and  nuclear energy. All of these applications require either improved alloys or new alloys to permit these future applications to evolve.
One of the new systems for improvement of special alloys is entitlled high entropy alloys. Actually development began way back in the 1980s with the superaalloys. At this time alloys existed for high temperature applications, but did not quite serve the application completely. However, if a slight amount of another element was added, or even an additional element in greater quantity, then the properties for the application were satisfied and life moved on.

In reality , however, there is no real definition of what a high entropy alloy is. Actually it is an alloy that is either modified or completely invented for specific applications, such as those new technologies mentioned above as being currently in progress at some scale of development. MagnaTech has been interested in improved magnetic alloys to provide improved power for electric cars. We are also active in development of heavy alloy materials. In this case, cobalt is a problem because it is largely produced in a potentially hostile country and also, although not classified, it is being considered as a carcenogenic. The Army was so concerned that it was working on research in that area. With the advent of the new laser technology for weaponry, the need for replacement has now abated. However, MagnaTech is starting a program to develop a binder for tungsten carbide that will eliminate the use of cobalt that is traditionally used as a binder.  MagnaTech always welcomes financial support for these projects being developed to improve applications for new designs for new technology.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Get Ready for Electric Cars

Ho, hum, Gas is still relatively cheap, but the population is growing that constantly shortens the finite supply of petroleum.On the contrary, electricity is expensive and the grid is already overloaded. Therefore why electric cars. The big problems are that supply is finite and also adds to the contamination of our atmosphere.
So, why not electric cars? Well there are still problems that require resolution. First, we are used to driving in to a gas station and saying fill er up.In less than fifteen minutes we are again on our way. Gas stations are located at almost every major intersection and therefore easy to stop and fill up.
If the country switches to electric cars, except in California, the stations available are not easily found. Therefore one frets a little bit longer when the gauge is reading close to empty. However, we well know as the need increases, there will be more and more stations available.
All well and good, not a big problem. However, consider that fifteen minutes to fill up and get underway. With the electric car, under current conditions, to achieve an additional distance of say, 300 miles, the electric car requires an hour to recharge. Ouch, that is not what the public wants.
The other factor the public expects is performance. That means that a battery needs to supply the proper energy to start the car, get it up to speed in a short period of time and maintain driving conditions until it is time to cease operation.
These conditions are obtained by a battery that supplies a motor with a proper supply of volts required to provide power to accomplish supply a transmission system to do the job. Currently the battery is the point of concern. Concerns include sealants, thermal insulation,conductivity , noise, vibration, shock, flame retardation barriers, tape resistant to hot, cold and cyclic temperature.These sound like insurmountable problems; and only time will tell whether sufficient advancements can be made.
However, the battery drives a motor which in turn controls transmission to the axles. These too affect the ability of the battery to perform and maintain sufficient life for efficient operation.Weight loss or more efficient performance by these components support the battery performance. MagnaTech is directing its energy to development of rotor component of the P/M motor that transmits energy to the transmission. If more power becomes available through added power supply to the transmission, then the battery can become more efficient, providing improved mileage before requiring a recharge. In addition, if the resistivity of the rotor segments can be improved, the car performance also is improved. If  the resistivity can be increased, power is also further increased and also temperature reduction is possible .MagnaTech is working on a new alloy that we expect will improve the properties stated above and thereby extend both life and performance of batteries. Furthermore, if successful, the development could result in decrease in motor weight, also improving battery performance. MagnaTech is seeking funding and partnership for commercialization of this improvement in performance of these P/M motors.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Update on the Staus of the Cemented Tungsten Carbide Market

Currently the market for cemented tungsten carbide is $27.5 trillion. Most of the cemented tungsten carbide market today uses a percentage of cobalt to permit the fine tungsten carbide particles to bind together when consolidated.Generally the amount of cobalt admixed is less than 10% of the tungsten carbide weight. Unfortunately cobalt is becoming a problem for many reasons.
The major reason is emerging competition from the battery and the automotive markets.The use of cobalt for these applications for components is increasing at a rapid rate.Currently it is estimated that 49 percent of the cobalt produced will be targeted toward this market.
Supply today mostly comes from the Republic of Congo, in Africa.The problem now becomes that we are dealing with an unstable government that uses children to mine the cobalt.without protective equipment. In addition, the EPA has declared cobalt to be carcinogenic. These problems have led to a deficit of cobalt for this year to be 3,205 tonnes, increasing to 5,340 tonnes by next year.As a result, the price of cobalt , in the past eighteen months, has increased from $10 per pound to $27.78 per pound.
The Army, facing these conditions regarding armaments, has developed a new patented binder system that is based on iron, thereby eliminating the use of cobalt from their applications. MagnaTech too has a concept for a new binder system, based on iron as the base, but using a different concept. We are seeking a partner to develop this system. If you are affiliated with the cemented carbide market, you are faced with the same problem. If interested in our system please contact us and we will be delighted to discuss our concept further.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Fusion Nuclear Reactors

Many designs for clean nuclear energy are being considered for commercial application One such system is classified as a fusion reactor.Unfortunately, like all proposed new reactor designs, this reactor will operate in a hostile envirenment, which includes stress at high temperatures, corrosive salt bathsand neutron irradiation.In addition, the life of a nuclear reactor should exceed 50 years with scheduled maintenance and replacement of materials
Under these harsh conditions materials  to resist structural damage under conditions never experienced before require development . Yes, materials are available for high temperature applications, such as jet engines and these materials opperate in a hostile corrosive atmosphere as well. They are available and do the job well.
How about these reactors then. What makes material selection so much more critical for their design and function? Well, first they will opperate at temeratures ranging from 500 C to 1000 C. No problem. Now throw in the condition that the structural component require function in some kind of a salt envirenment. Now we are approaching some difficult selections, however, still possible. Now add the fact that irradiation occurs and you really have a large problem to resolve. What is the material that can sustain all of these factors? Unfortunately, under current technology this selection is not trivial and requires more careful study.
Well, what happens if you change the surface of these materials by application of a coating of some sort that is more corrosive resistant. Posssible to resist corrosion in salt solutions.; but how about the factor of irradiation? Now we are into the nitty gritty of the problem. First, studies of resistance to radiation are difficult to come by. Secondly, not only can there be more extensive surface damage owing to corrosion and defects in the material structture, but also there may be deterioration of the structural properties, owing to the applied opperating conditions.
For these reasons, MagnaTech is interested in the development of surface coatings capable of sustaining these operating conditions. MagnaTech is working on surface modification that could possibly reduce the damaqge from salt and radiation causing degradation of the surface. Steels are being developed and these steels are becoming available.Whether these steels will be capable of resisting structural degradation is also unknown, althoug more clearly defined. MagnaTech would like to present our concepts to companies that are interested in commercialization of the concepts, should they present a solution to the problem. Please contact us, should you too have interest in this area of opportunity.