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Advances and technological developments to improve the service life of components in harsh environments

In a working session open to representatives of the process industry, the workshop “New opportunities for digitalization, sensorization and development of materials in hostile environments” allowed to know different approach strategies and areas of application worked by the HIPERMAT, NEMARCO and INEVITABLE projects.

For 3 years, the HIPERMAT project consortium has focused on improving the durability and service life of components for hot stamping furnaces to reduce the economic and environmental impact associated with maintenance works, which involves replacement of parts and technical stops. To this end, the work team has focused on the development of new components for application at high temperature, such as the rings and beams present within these furnaces supported by advanced modelling technologies, printed sensors, new materials and manufacturing processes. On the verge of completing the project, the team already has tangible results having developed, among others, two refractory stainless steels, two coatings (a ceramic one and a metallic one), a sustainable castings manufacturing process and embedded sensors, all aimed at improving the resistance to thermal fatigue, creep and wear. The technical meeting held at the AZTERLAN Metallurgy Research Centre allowed to share some of these advances, along with some remarkable results obtained also within the INEVITABLE (oriented to the process industry) and NEMARCO (aeronautical industry) projects.

Opening the technical session, representatives of CRM Group, Philippe Guaino, and Fraunhofer ICS, Jonathan Maier, presented the work carried out jointly to develop, install and ensure the reception of sensor data for work in corrosive environments and high temperatures, specifically, thermocouples manufactured using additive technologies. As they explained, in this process “it was essential to improve the knowledge and stabilization potential of thermocouples in heating cycles by the adequacy of the microstructure of the printed metal until the response of these sensors was similar to conventional ones manufactured with cable”. Similarly, the team shared the additive manufacturing technologies used to develop each of the sensors, as well as details of the installation process and how data capture and broadcast was ensured in a secure and stable manner.

In the field of materials, on behalf of the team dedicated to the development of the material and coating for the manufacture of furnace rings (ESI, QUESTEK, AZTERLAN, CEIT, SVUM, KTH), the representative of QUESTEK, David Linder, shared how “advanced modelling tools have allowed to accelerate the development of a new material and a coating, determining production and application parameters, in a more agile and safe way”. To achieve this, after identifying the causes and forms of failure of these parts, the team has used advanced simulation tools (both for manufacturing and testing components). “Thanks to the knowledge and models we have developed within HIPERMAT, we can now optimize metallic alloy compositions and coatings, as well as process parameters to improve the properties and performance of materials for work in furnaces and corrosive environments, ensuring the quality of the parts and process costs.”

Next, Fernando Santos, head of AZTERLAN’s Special Materials and Processes research line, presented the innovative HydroSolidification technology used to create the new refractory steels (BEEN 1 alloy) developed within HIPERMAT to manufacture furnace beams. “Since the main failure mode of these elements inside the furnace is creep, assisted by the precipitation of large Cr23C6 carbides on the grain edges of the steel, the new material developed has focused on improving the response to high temperatures. For its design, on the one hand, we have acted on the chemical composition of commercial materials previously analyzed (by adding small amounts of alloying elements such as Nb, Mo, Cu, W) as well as on their solidification process”. In this last area, Fernando explained how the HydroSolidification technology, a casting technology in which the mold is dissolved by applying water jets accelerating the cooling process of the parts in their solidification interval in a directed way to achieve greater performance in the feeding of the melted components, “we have achieved a cast alloy with clearly superior performance, with a lower presence of primary carbides and a much more homogeneous distribution of secondary carbides and in which the solid solution of the added components and, additionally, a change in the morphology of the carbides present also provides improved mechanical properties to the parts”.

Finally, Sergio Ausejo, Giselle Ramirez and Jonathan Maier, representatives of CEIT, Eurecat and Fraunhofer respectively, jointly presented the process of development and application of CERMET (ceramic-metallic) coatings by HVOF and metallic coatings (Haynes 230) by LMD. The studies carried out allow to advance significant improvements in the wear tests compared to the starting alloy used in the current component. Hardness tests and microstructural analysis of wear have made it possible to determine the causes of this at high temperatures and the adjustment of these manufacturing processes to improve their behavior and thus achieve their final application into actual parts that will be installed in the furnace throughout this year.

Interesting advances of the INNEVITABLE and NEMARCO projects in the field of control technologies and new sustainable materials and coatings

The meeting also hosted some of the most relevant technological developments of the projects carried out within the INEVITABLE and NEMARCO teams.

In the first case, the AZTERLAN researcher specialized in Special Materials and Processes David García shared the characteristics of the holistic digitalization of an industrial investment casting plant (EIPC), encompassing the different stages of the process and allowing to visualize the productive and quality status (controls) of the plant in real time. David unveiled the design of the architecture that includes the stages of capture, preprocessing, visualization, consultation and prediction. “The project was oriented to objectives related to the reduction of rejection and improvement of the mechanical properties of the material that were clearly fulfilled and the preventive work carried out on the process is remarkable. On the one hand, thanks to the Salomon multivariate analysis software developed by AZTERLAN we could define the most relevant correlations between the monitored parameters and their level of influence on the objectives pursued. With this basis, we developed Predictive Control Models that ensure that the process is executed properly by anticipating and acting on it before deviations are generated. These predictive models were installed on the Sentinel orchestrator platform that has been adapted to EIPC’s production characteristics and objectives.”

As the last presentation of the day, Dr. Andrea Niklas, also an AZTERLAN researcher, presented the new self-fluxing alloys developed within the NEMARCO project as an alternative to cobalt-based superalloys in wear conditions at temperatures between 400 and 650Cº. “Currently, cobalt based alloys (Stellites) are used in the manufacture of aeronautical components present in the cabins of aircraft and that, due to the toxicity of cobalt, the emission of particles in wear conditions can be harmful to the health of their occupants. Nickel-based self-fluxing alloys of the NiCrSiFeB type are excellent candidates to replace them”. Thus, as part of the NEMARCO project, the team has demonstrated the feasibility and properties of these alloys for this purpose, together with the definition of new manufacturing routes for the components developed with them.

Azterlan Team
Azterlan Team
RE·Thinking Metallurgy. 40+ años acompañando a la industria metal-mecánica.

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