Heat-treating cycle time and energy requirements for solution heat treating precipitation hardenable aluminum alloys are significantly reduced using this fluidized-bed technology.
Advanced heat-treated alloys make possible many of today's technological achieve-ments. These alloys are used wherever one looks-from automobiles to airplanes. In precipitation-hardenable aluminum alloys, heat treatment, quenching, and aging are used to develop the desired properties following the casting process. As essential as this process is, it often is a manufacturing bottleneck since the process currently can take up to 30 hours. Technomics believes these long process times are not essential, and is investigating faster cycle times using fluidized bed technology. An automated process that greatly reduces the time and energy requirements of the heat treatment cycle has been developed using advanced fluidized bed technology optimized for the heat-treating industry. As part of this effort, the company has been working in concert with Worcester Polytechnic Institute, or WPI (Worcester, Mass.) and other selected partners in industry. One of these critical partners is ANSYS Inc. (Pittsburgh, Pa.), a manufacturer of finite element analysis (FEA) software. In addition, Technomics has received a federal NIST grant to study and validate the advantages of quenching aluminum castings in a fluidized bed.