SECO/VACUUM, a SECO/WARWICK Group company, received an order for a 2-bar vacuum furnace from a global energy and environmental services company. The single-chamber high-pressure-quench furnace will be utilized for a range of heat-treating processes, including hardening of tool steels and high-vacuum sintering and annealing. The furnace is designed to achieve deep vacuum levels that will allow the company to process materials for nuclear applications. It will replace an older furnace, adding more capabilities and process flexibility.
The Biden-Harris Administration, through the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), issued a Request for Information (RFI) on the development and implementation of a $675 million Critical Materials Research, Development, Demonstration, and Commercialization Program. Funded by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the program will address vulnerabilities in the domestic critical-materials supply chain. Critical materials, which include rare-earth elements, lithium, nickel and cobalt, are required for manufacturing clean-energy technologies such as batteries, electric vehicles, wind turbines and solar panels. The program will advance domestic sourcing and production, strengthening America’s position as a global manufacturing leader.
Advanced Heat Treat Corp. (AHT) announced the addition of UltraGlow induction hardening at its location in Cullman, Ala. The custom-built induction equipment has been delivered, and the company is ready for induction work. AHT’s Alabama employees trained at the company’s Waterloo, Iowa, location to prepare for the new service offering. Waterloo operates six induction-hardening units and hundreds of coils to accommodate various geometries.
Lotte Aluminium Materials USA LLC will invest $238.7 million to build an aluminum foil manufacturing operation in Elizabethtown, Ky. The facility, which will create 122 full-time jobs, is expected to begin operation in 2025. The joint venture between Lotte Chemical and Lotte Aluminium will annually produce 36,000 tons of cathode foil, a type of ultra-thin aluminum foil that is a core material used in electric-vehicle (EV) batteries. Cathode foil is one of the four major components of lithium-ion batteries. It supports the cathode active material that determines the capacity and voltage of the secondary battery and, at the same time, serves as a passage for electrons.
France’s Obut has been producing steel balls weighing around 700 grams each for popular sport Pétanque since 1955. In an effort to improve production of boule balls at its headquarters in Saint-Bonnet-Le-Château, the company ordered a 1,300-ton forging press from Farina. The forging press replaces two lines with a press force of 600 and 800 tons respectively, which are becoming obsolete. The future line, which also includes a transfer and a furnace, will form a half shell every 2 seconds. The starting material for the boule balls, which have a diameter of just over 2.75 inches (7 cm), are steel rods cut into sections that a press first forms into discs and then into half shells. These are then welded together, machined and polished to a mirror finish.
SECO/WARWICK will supply a two-chamber vacuum melting and casting furnace to a company in the aerospace industry. The furnace is designed with vertical loading to produce high-quality equiax castings. It is equipped with a 150-kW heater that will heat the mold in the furnace before pouring. The vacuum melting and casting furnace, which has a 55-pound (25-kg) load capacity, will have a valve separating the melting chamber from the mold chamber and a gate separating the vertical loader from the melting chamber. This configuration allows the system to carry on processes one after the other without having to aerate the melting chamber.
Nucor Corp. will add a new melt shop at its bar mill in Kingman, Ariz. The $100 million facility will have the capacity to produce 600,000 tons annually and create approximately 140 new full-time jobs. Construction is expected to take two years pending permit and regulatory approvals. Nucor announced its intention to build a new melt shop at one of its existing bar mills in the western United States in September 2021. Nucor Steel Kingman is the ideal location for this project because it is a rolling mill that converts steel billets into coiled wire rod and rebar but lacks a melt shop.
Panasonic Energy Co. Ltd., a Panasonic Group company, plans to invest approximately $4 billion to build a lithium-ion battery manufacturing facility in De Soto, Kan. The project could create up to 4,000 new jobs. Panasonic Energy plans to expand its production of EV batteries as the automotive industry shifts to more sustainable electric technologies. The planned facility in Kansas supports the company’s commitment to contribute to society by reducing global carbon emissions. The announcement comes five years after Panasonic Group began production of lithium-ion batteries at Panasonic Energy of North America (PENA) in Sparks, Nev. While PENA’s operations in Sparks will continue, the new facility in Kansas is intended to further support Panasonic’s long-term commitment to advancing the EV industry in the United States.
GKN Powder Metallurgy (GKN PM) announced its commitment to enter the permanent magnets for electric vehicle (EV) market in response to the supply challenges the industry is facing. The company says it is well positioned to meet the ever-increasing demand for a stable, local supply of permanent magnets, which are a vital component of EV motors. Using its industry expertise, existing production processes and manufacturing capabilities in North America and Europe, GKN PM will bring stability in the manufacturing of permanent magnets. Significant progress in product development has already been made, and the business is now entering the phase of industrialization planning. A dedicated Magnets project team operates out of the company’s Innovation Centres for metal powders in Cinnaminson, N.J., and for sinter-metal manufacturing in Radevormwald, Germany.