Original Date: 03/08/1999
Revision Date: 01/18/2007
Best Practice : Spray Forming of Aluminum Alloys
The Applied Research Laboratory at the Pennsylvania State University (ARL Penn State) operates a 6,000-square foot Spray Metal Forming (SMF) facility that houses a pilot production plant with extrusion capability. The SMF facility also provides alloy preparation and refining capabilities, and reduces manufacturing costs by eliminating the intermediate processing steps for some alloys.
SMF is a rapid material manufacturing process that atomizes a metal stream with inert gas. A mixture of liquid and solid particles is deposited onto a collection plate or mandrel in the form of billet, tube, or sheet/plate. Characteristics of the deposited material include being relatively void free; and having low oxygen content, no inclusion directionality, and ultra-fine size grains. The deposited material can either be used in the as-sprayed condition or processed further through forging, extrusion, semisolid forming, or rolling. The SMF process produces metallic structures with isotropic, crystallographic, and finer-size grains than traditional casting. In addition, the process can fabricate new compositions and structures which are impossible by conventional ingot or powder metallurgy processes.
The SMF facility produces many products including ultra-high-temperature (700°F) alloys; high-strength aluminum alloys (850 MPa); ultra-low-density aluminum alloys (Al-High Li); high strength, corrosive-resistant aluminum alloys (Al-Zn-Mg-Cu); wear-resistant aluminum alloys; and metal matrix composites. The facility also employs the SMF process on a variety of applications. One application involved integrating the process with the fan stator design, development, and testing of jet engines (e.g., Joint Strike Fighter project), which reduced engine weight and improved the service life of new engines. In another case, the process reduced unit weight and provided wear- and corrosion-resistant materials for tracked road vehicles (e.g., Advanced Amphibious Assault Vehicle [AAAV] program). Other potential applications for SMF include automotive chassis; engine and brake components; aircraft wheel and brake assemblies; recreational sport equipment; computer disk components; and cryogenic tanks.
The SMF facility produces materials with unique metallurgical characteristics using advanced alloy systems with a proven fabrication process. Through its efforts, the facility transforms new material concepts into real-world applications.
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