South Dakota Tech News
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 12, 2004
Contact: Steve Buchholz, Public Information Manager, 394-6082
Laser Research Aimed At Better Materials
Materials used for tools, dies and other processing equipment in the forging, die casting and glass industries have been in existence for more than 50 years, but the materials are inadequate for the stress they endure.
Those inadequacies spike energy costs and cause poor efficiency because the materials don’t last very long. A research project at South Dakota Tech aims to fix those problems.
Dr. James Sears, director of the Additive Manufacturing Laboratory that is part of Tech’s new Institute of Multi-Scale Material Development and Processes, is in the first of the three-year, $600,000 project. The research is designed to create new industrial materials that will reduce energy consumption by 25 percent and increase the lives of the materials by a minimum of five times. The end use applications for the technology proposed in this project include tools, die and molds in hot forging metals, die casting molten metals and press forming molten glass.
“Current materials are a bottleneck to increasing the manufacturing efficiency in these industries,” Sears said. “Solving these barriers requires a new approach to materials selection and the manufacturing of these materials with advanced powder metallurgy technology. Our plans are to develop advanced tooling materials for hot forging automotive steel components, die casting aluminum and magnesium parts and molding glass television picture tubes.”
Sears is using Tech’s laser powder deposition equipment to create the new materials based on thermodynamic phase calculations performed by Dr. Stanley Howard, professor, Department of Materials and Metallurgical Engineering, Ph.D. candidate student Sudip Bhattacharya. Tech is working on the project with the following industrial and research partners: Carpenter Powder Products, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, GKN Sinter Metals, Metaldyne Group Operations, THT Presses and Techneglas.
The laser powder deposition equipment is used to build components from the inside out, unlike traditional manufacturing. A nozzle sprays a metal powder into a molten pool on a work surface while a laser forms the desired shape by successive layer buildup, preprogrammed by the equipment operator.
“The materials created for tools and processing equipment will be custom designed and manufactured for testing in a commercial environment,” Sears said. “Tech’s industrial partners will test the performance, energy usage and economics to determine what, if any, of the materials will be used.”
South Dakota Tech is an engineering and science university located in Rapid City, S.D.
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Devereaux Library. South Dakota School of Mines and Technology.