Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

A new manufacturing process for aluminum alloys

19.06.2019

Process eliminates multiple steps typical in conventional extrusion

An advanced manufacturing process to produce nano structured rods and tubes directly from high-performance aluminum alloy powder -- in a single step -- was recently demonstrated by researchers from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.


PNNL's ShAPE™ process combined with a unique aluminum alloy produced high-strength, high-ductility rods in one single process.

Credit: Andrea Starr | Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Using a novel Solid Phase Processing approach, the research team eliminated several steps that are required during conventional extrusion processing of aluminum alloy powders, while also achieving a significant increase in product ductility (how far a material can stretch before it breaks).

This is good news for sectors such as the automotive industry, where the high cost of manufacturing has historically limited the use of high-strength aluminum alloys made from powders.

The team's research is described in the paper "High Ductility Aluminum Alloy Made from Powder by Friction Extrusion," published in the June 2019 issue of Materialia.

Stepping Away from Conventional Extrusion

High-performance aluminum alloys made from powder have long been used in lightweight components for specialized aerospace applications, where cost is not a limiting factor. However, these alloys have typically been too expensive for the automotive industry.

A typical extrusion process for aluminum alloy powders is energy-and process-intensive, requiring multiple steps to mass produce the material. First, the loose powder must be loaded into a can and gases removed using a vacuum, which is called "degassing." The can is then sealed, hot pressed, pre-heated, and placed into the extrusion press. After extrusion, the can is removed, or "decanned," to reveal the extruded part made from consolidated powder.

In this study, the team eliminated many of these steps, extruding nanostructured aluminum rods directly from powder in a single step, using PNNL's Shear Assisted Processing and Extrusion technology, or ShAPE™.

Extrusion of aluminum alloys directly from powder elimates canning, de-gassing, hot isostatic pressing, de-canning, and billet pre-heating

In the ShAPE™ process, a powder -- in this case, an Al-12.4TM aluminum alloy powder provided by SCM Metal Products, Inc., a division of Kymera International -- is poured into an open container. A rotating extrusion die is then forced into the powder, which generates heat at the interface between the powder and die. The material softens and easily extrudes, eliminating the need for canning, degassing, hot pressing, pre-heating, and decanning.

"This is the first published instance of an aluminum alloy powder being consolidated into nano structured extrusions using a single-step process like ShAPE™," said PNNL materials scientist Scott Whalen, who led the study.

He added, "The elimination of both the processing steps and the need for pre-heating could dramatically reduce production time as well as lower the cost and overall embedded energy within the product, which could be beneficial for automotive manufacturers who want to make passenger vehicles more affordable, lighter, and fuel-efficient for the consumer."

Besides providing the Al-12.4TM powder, SCM Metals Products, Inc. performed mechanical testing to validate the resulting material's performance. PNNL and SCM Metal Products, Inc. are now collaborating on a project for DOE's Office of Technology Transitions to scale up the process for larger diameter extrusions.

Ductility--It's a Stretch

Elimination of processing steps and reduced heating weren't the only successful findings by the team.

While high-performance aluminum alloys have historically shown excellent strength, they have typically been hampered by poor ductility. However, the team found dramatic improvements in the ductility of the extrusion produced by ShAPE™, measuring ductility that is two to three times that found in conventional extrusion products, and with equivalent strength.

To understand the reason for the substantial increase in ductility, transmission electron microscopy was used to evaluate the microstructures of the powder and the extruded materials. The results indicated that the ShAPE™ method refined the second phases in the powder--tiny strengthening particles of non-aluminum materials. ShAPE™ reduces the particles to nanoscale sizes and evenly distributes them throughout the aluminum matrix, increasing ductility.

###

ShAPE™ is part of PNNL's growing suite of capabilities in Solid Phase Processing -- or SPP, a disruptive approach to metals manufacturing that can be better, cheaper, and greener than melt-based methods typically associated with metals manufacturing.

The research was supported by the Materials Synthesis and Simulation Across Scales Initiative, a Laboratory Directed Research and Development project at PNNL. In addition to Kymera International, researchers from the University of California, Riverside collaborated on this project.

About PNNL

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory draws on signature capabilities in chemistry, earth sciences, and data analytics to advance scientific discovery and create solutions to the nation's toughest challenges in energy resiliency and national security. Founded in 1965, PNNL is operated by Battelle for the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science. DOE's Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit PNNL's News Center. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter.

Media Contact:

Nick Hennen
Media Relations Advisor
509-554-4533
nick@pnnl.gov

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OWoTBGoavuY

http://www.pnnl.gov/news 

Nick Hennen | EurekAlert!
Further information:
https://www.pnnl.gov/news-media/new-manufacturing-process-aluminum-alloys
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.mtla.2019.100260

More articles from Materials Sciences:

nachricht OrganoPor: Bio-Based Boards for A Thermal Insulation Composite System
21.02.2020 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Betriebsfestigkeit und Systemzuverlässigkeit LBF

nachricht Freiburg researcher investigate the origins of surface texture
17.02.2020 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A step towards controlling spin-dependent petahertz electronics by material defects

The operational speed of semiconductors in various electronic and optoelectronic devices is limited to several gigahertz (a billion oscillations per second). This constrains the upper limit of the operational speed of computing. Now researchers from the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter in Hamburg, Germany, and the Indian Institute of Technology in Bombay have explained how these processes can be sped up through the use of light waves and defected solid materials.

Light waves perform several hundred trillion oscillations per second. Hence, it is natural to envision employing light oscillations to drive the electronic...

Im Focus: Freiburg researcher investigate the origins of surface texture

Most natural and artificial surfaces are rough: metals and even glasses that appear smooth to the naked eye can look like jagged mountain ranges under the microscope. There is currently no uniform theory about the origin of this roughness despite it being observed on all scales, from the atomic to the tectonic. Scientists suspect that the rough surface is formed by irreversible plastic deformation that occurs in many processes of mechanical machining of components such as milling.

Prof. Dr. Lars Pastewka from the Simulation group at the Department of Microsystems Engineering at the University of Freiburg and his team have simulated such...

Im Focus: Skyrmions like it hot: Spin structures are controllable even at high temperatures

Investigation of the temperature dependence of the skyrmion Hall effect reveals further insights into possible new data storage devices

The joint research project of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) that had previously demonstrated...

Im Focus: Making the internet more energy efficient through systemic optimization

Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, recently completed a 5-year research project looking at how to make fibre optic communications systems more energy efficient. Among their proposals are smart, error-correcting data chip circuits, which they refined to be 10 times less energy consumptive. The project has yielded several scientific articles, in publications including Nature Communications.

Streaming films and music, scrolling through social media, and using cloud-based storage services are everyday activities now.

Im Focus: New synthesis methods enhance 3D chemical space for drug discovery

After helping develop a new approach for organic synthesis -- carbon-hydrogen functionalization -- scientists at Emory University are now showing how this approach may apply to drug discovery. Nature Catalysis published their most recent work -- a streamlined process for making a three-dimensional scaffold of keen interest to the pharmaceutical industry.

"Our tools open up whole new chemical space for potential drug targets," says Huw Davies, Emory professor of organic chemistry and senior author of the paper.

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

70th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting: Around 70 Laureates set to meet with young scientists from approx. 100 countries

12.02.2020 | Event News

11th Advanced Battery Power Conference, March 24-25, 2020 in Münster/Germany

16.01.2020 | Event News

Laser Colloquium Hydrogen LKH2: fast and reliable fuel cell manufacturing

15.01.2020 | Event News

 
Latest News

Active droplets

21.02.2020 | Medical Engineering

Finding new clues to brain cancer treatment

21.02.2020 | Health and Medicine

Beyond the brim, Sombrero Galaxy's halo suggests turbulent past

21.02.2020 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>