ALLOYED ACQUIRES ELECTRO-THERMAL MECHANICAL TESTING (ETMT) MACHINE

Alloyed (formerly OxMet Technologies) brings together the advanced technology brands Alloys-By-Design (ABD), Betatype, and Alloyed Digital Manufacture (ADM) and provides a compelling offering for optimising advanced digital metal manufacturing applications.

Today the company is delighted to announce the acquisition of an Electro-Thermal Mechanical Testing (ETMT) machine, and so becomes one of the only private companies globally to have this technology in-house for the benefit of its customers.

The £300K investment in the ETMT machine is strategically very important for Alloyed, and the technology resides in its 1000 m2 laboratory in Oxford, U.K. where metal research, testing and characterisation takes place.

Gael Guetard, Alloyed’s Rapid Alloy Research Centre Director says, “While the ETMT machine adds hugely to our in-house technology portfolio used on behalf of an array of customers working on exacting AM and non-AM metal product applications, it is the combination of the technology with the vast experience of the Alloyed team that is the real strength. Alloyed’s unrivalled expertise lies in using advanced metallurgy, the latest simulation techniques, and a profound understanding of the factors that drive alloy performance. The company focuses on multi-scale materials and multi-physics modelling, prediction and analysis of fatigue and failure (an area enhanced by the ETMT machine), and the optimisation of complex manufacturing processes, including AM. While many customers have come to us since we installed the ETMT machine to take advantage of its superior attributes, it is often a gateway for them to then take advantage of the array of services that Alloyed can offer for advanced metal manufacturing projects.”

ONE-STOP SHOP FOR METAL TESTING

Installed just over one month ago, the ETMT machine makes Alloyed a one-stop shop for a number of metal tests that would have previously only been possible through the agency of a number of different testing companies using a variety of technologies. The ETMT machine can perform tensile and compression tests, creep tests (also called stress-rupture tests), and fatigue tests. Tests can be undertaken in air, vacuum, or foreign gases such as Argon.

The temperature of the sample being tested is controlled by the Joule effect, meaning that temperatures in excess of 1000°C can be attained. The ETMT machine can also quickly heat and cool samples, affording the ability to cycle the temperature or perform in-situ heat treatments.

Guetard continues, “At Alloyed, we have equipped the ETMT with a state-of-the-art digital image correlation (DIC) system, which allows us to optically measure strain on the sample during testing. The machine is well suited for miniature test specimens, which allows us to obtain site-specific mechanical properties from large parts such as forgings. We have also found it very valuable in measuring the properties of fine additively manufactured structures like lattices or thin walls. The machine is extremely versatile and allows for an array of tests to be undertaken under one roof, so any interested parties can approach us to discuss the possibilities and also to assess what else we can help with through Alloyed’s unique stack of technologies for the manufacture of advanced metal components both by additive or traditional means.”

The investment in the ETMT system is a stand out example of Alloyed’s commitment to excellence and providing a broad range of complementary services for its pan-industrial global customers.

Alloyed is delighted to announce that the CHAMPP consortium, which it is a part of, has been awarded a significant grant to research, develop and test an innovative new hybrid production process that will address a number of the key limitations of additive manufacturing (AM) for the automotive sector, specifically electric vehicles (EVs).

WHAT IS THE CHAMPP PROGRAMME?

The Casting-Hybrid-Additive-Manufacturing-Parts-Production (CHAMPP) programme brings together a critical mass of technical and market expertise with three key partners, namely Alloyed, Brunel University London’s BCAST, Gestamp and its affiliate Autotech.

With the EV market projected to reach circa 27 million units per year by 2030*, the automotive industry is constantly working on solutions to meet the challenges associated with heavy batteries and developing lighter weight components to achieve efficiency targets. AM has long offered automotive designers and manufacturers the potential to overcome these challenges, but is currently still limited by the speed of the processes, maximum part size and a relatively high cost-per-part, which is, generally, twice the cost of casting production methods.

Thus, the CHAMPP programme has been initiated to investigate a hybrid approach to the production of parts by considering the benefits of both casting and AM. The expertise of Alloyed in developing novel and innovative new alloys using its Alloy by Design (ABD®) platform for both casting and AM as well as the capabilities of its Engine® platform for increasing AM performance, together with the expertise of BCAST and Gestamp in their respective fields of casting research and world-class global manufacturing of automotive parts.

WHAT IS THE VISION?

The vision is to combine the low cost-per-part capabilities of casting with the design and production flexibility of AM. In this way automotive manufacturers will be able to cast their standard components across multiple models, and subsequently use metal AM to customise those standard parts for specific variants at the volumes required.

To date, research in this area has mostly focussed on steel materials. However, while steel remains a relatively low-cost material, the complex supply chains and/or expensive new machines have been a barrier to large-scale hybridisation reaching the mainstream. Moreover, research on hybridisation using Aluminium (or alloys thereof) has been limited by traditional cast/wrought alloys which, when used with AM processes, result in poor mechanical performance. Similarly, current Aluminium alloy AM powders are generally not suited for automotive production applications as they are expensive and result in poorer mechanical properties with many defects.

AIMS OF THE CHAMPP PROJECT

The CHAMPP project aims to build on the consortium’s prior alloy and hybridisation research to develop and test new Aluminium alloy(s) better suited to future automotive needs. The focus will be on developing alloys that can first be cast and then subsequently built on to produce custom/complex features using AM techniques with a compatible alloy that maintains mechanical properties and performance.

Shouxun Ji, Professor at BCAST, added: “It is exciting to be working in such a high-class consortium of companies and institutions at the cutting edge of the next-generation of casting processes in combination with additive manufacturing as part of a truly advanced hybrid technique for producing metal components. The future is exciting, and BACST is delighted to be central to the CHAMPP initiative.”

Phil Potter, Innovation Project Manager at Gestamp commented; “We are proud to be working on the CHAMPP project alongside some prominent players in the metal production and AM space. Obviously for us the tie in with the potential for AM to be used alongside other solutions and innovations in the area of EVs is of pivotal concern, and we see the CHAMPP programme as vital to the furtherance of safer, lighter, more energy efficient, and more environmentally-friendly vehicles in the future.”

Sajjad Amirkhanlou, Programme Director at Alloyed, commenting on the grant award, said: “We are delighted to be a part of the CHAMPP programme and bring our considerable experience and expertise to the project. It is vital for AM — if it is to fulfil its true potential — that the speed, size, and cost limitations are addressed fully. Through the CHAMPP programme we will tackle these issues head-on by taking a multi-disciplinary approach and combining AM with an efficient and optimised casting process.”

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Alloyed recently completed a strategic acquisition of an Arc Melter and has installed it alongside its already impressive array of technologies housed in its Oxford, U.K.-based Rapid Alloy Research Centre.

The installation of the Arc Melter follows the investment in an Electro-Thermal Mechanical Testing (ETMT) machine, and in a similar fashion to the ETMT machine adds significantly to Alloyed’s in-house technology capability used on behalf of a broad range of customers working on an array of demanding AM and non-AM metal product applications.

Gael Guetard, Alloyed’s Rapid Alloy Research Centre Director says, “Alloyed is expert in the development, licensing, and manufacture of proprietary alloys, alloy powders, and alloy components for a growing number of industry sectors. The acquisition of the Arc200 from Arcast means that Alloyed is one of the only private commercial companies to have this technology in-house. It has been purchased to complement our two induction melters installed in 2020, these two melters having been key assets for our Cu, Ni, Pt, Fe, and Al alloy development projects. The induction melters use a ceramic crucible which reacts with some alloys and are limited to 2000°C, whereas the Arc200 has a copper crucible that accommodates higher melting point alloys and means we can now produce alloys with high levels of Ti, Zr, Nb, Ta, Mo, W, etc…  This significantly widens the markets and customers we can reach, particularly in the medical, space, and nuclear sectors.”

The Arc200 uses a tungsten electrode to generate an arc in an argon atmosphere and melts the feedstock materials in a water-cooled copper crucible. The specific machine purchased by Alloyed also has the following options: high vacuum (10-5 mbar) and getter to allow a clean melt; electromagnetic stirring/pulsing and button flipping to ensure the chemical homogeneity of the melt; high power (up to 800 A) to melt virtually any metal; and tilt-casting into a mould to control the solidification structure and shape of the ingot.

Gael continues, “Before we purchased the Arc200, we would outsource the melting of high temperature and reactive alloys, and this had the knock-on effect of increasing cost and lead times of our projects. In addition, it meant that we had little control over quality. Bringing this capability in-house means that we can significantly increase the pace of our alloy development projects and gain more control over the quality of the alloys which is fundamental to customer satisfaction. The arc melter fits within our ‘Rapid Alloy Research Centre’ where the ingots cast in the Arc200 can be processed, characterised and tested. We are currently in the commissioning phase, but we already have several exciting new alloys lined-up: Ti-based alloys for medical applications, bulk metallic glasses for jewellery, high-entropy alloys for gas turbines, refractory-based alloys for space, and more. We are excited to engage with new customers moving forward who can now benefit from our expertise and agility in customised alloy development.”

The investment in the Arc 200 is another example of Alloyed’s commitment to excellence and providing a broad range of complementary services for its pan-industrial global customers.

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The Laser Metal Deposition process is an established method for repair of superalloy components. ABD®‑900AM does not form detrimental phases during AM – using it in repair avoids the need for heat treatment.

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ABD®-900AM, OxMet’s nickel alloy designed for high-temperature strength and crack-free additive manufacture, has been shortlisted for the best Non-Polymer materials award.

Rebecca Gingell joins host Michael Frazis to discuss OxMet’s Alloys by Design platform, its academic modelling heritage, and why aerospace alloys aren’t always suitable for orthopaedic implants.

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Come to the TCT show at the NEC 24-26 September and talk to our engineers about the ABD®-XAM range of novel alloys and how they outperform their empirical counterparts.

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OxMet is proud to announce its additive manufacturing powder partner, Aubert & Duval. The companies have signed a licence agreement for the production and distribution of OxMet’s ABD®-XAM range of nickel alloys for additive manufacturing.

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Betatype is delighted to end 2019 with a key announcement that will expand the impact of the company’s technologies and expertise into the next decade and beyond through its merger via acquisition by OxMet Technologies (Oxford, UK).

The merged company will bring together Betatype’s market-leading additive process and component design technologies that are key to unlocking the potential of metal additive manufacturing with the world-class metallurgical expertise of OxMet. Together these capabilities will provide clients with a superior approach to building metal parts with digital manufacturing processes.

Betatype’s founder and CEO, Sarat Babu, will join the Board of the combined company as Chief Digital Officer with Betatype’s primary offices and world class team remaining in London.

Babu comments, “We’ve been working with Oxmet Technologies for over a year on a number of joint projects. During that time we’ve developed a combined vision for the future of what metal looks like in the new digital manufacturing age. The merger builds on the very foundations of what both Betatype and Oxmet have always been about, and I’m thrilled for what we intend to build together in the near future.

The vertical markets in which the new company is already active include the aerospace, automotive, medical, and electronics sectors, in all of which additive manufacturing and the new generation of alloys required to capitalise on it, have transformational potential to deliver better part performance, reduce component count, shorten lead times, and enable distributed supply chains.

We look forward to sharing further details in the New Year.