Arcast Inc., based in Oxford, Maine, USA, a specialist in arc and induction melting systems, has announced it is creating a new company, Arcast Materials, to focus on the bulk production of a number of challenging alloys including titanium alloy powders.
The company forecasts that production of clean titanium alloy powders will be in the order of ‘tonnes per month’ once the new plant is operating at its full potential. This will directly feed the growing Powder Metallurgy market, especially in the areas of Additive Manufacturing and associated net shape production techniques.
In recent years, Arcast has concentrated on developing gas atomisation systems for the production of metal powders. In 2015 Arcast was awarded a contract by the Swedish steel company Uddeholms AB to build a 200 kg capacity gas atomiser. This system, for the production of tool steel powders, was signed off in August 2016.
Also in 2015, Arcast won an order from a single North American customer to manufacture two gas atomisers, one for the production of nickel alloy powders (120 kg capacity) and the other to produce aluminium powders (40 kg capacity). These systems have been installed and are in the process of being commissioned.
In 2011, Arcast recieved a SBIR Phase I grant of US$150,000 from the National Science Foundation for the development of a new method for reactive and refractory metal processing. Arcast was subsequently awarded a Phase II grant of US$500,000.
The NSF funding has allowed Arcast to develop a method for taking elemental refractory or reactive metal and melt, alloy and atomise or cast it in one continuous process. The process is completely ceramic free allowing clean, contamination-free alloys to be produced. The theoretical properties of these advanced materials in pure form can be maintained without the risk of ceramic inclusions.
The continuous nature of the Arcast process, from raw material to finished product (powder), is claimed to consume a fraction of the energy used by the collection of processes and methods currently used by industry to achieve the same results. It also greatly reduces the costs involved, allowing a greater range of metal powders to be produced more cost effectively. The single process reduces lead times and contamination.
Now that the process has been proven and set up for production, Arcast states that it is working with customers in various sectors to produce these advanced materials. Such materials will include shape memory alloys, thermo-electric materials and alloys used in aerospace and medical markets and in additive and other net shape manufacturing methods.