The Energy Efficient Process of Engineering Materials (EFFIPRO) Project, part funded by the EU (FP7) and industry partners, was launched in September 2013. The objectives of this three year project are to develop a significantly shorter PM process using a new concept of hybrid electrical current assisted sintering, and hard materials with improved properties, thus resulting in a more energy efficient and cost effective process.
The project will focus on two different technologies, Electrical Discharge Compaction (EDC) and Electrical Resistance Sintering (ERS). The technology will be studied at fundamental level and pilot plant scale equipment will be designed and built.
High performance metallic composites (based on hardmetals, WC-Co) and engineering metallic materials are to be processed using this technology. It is stated that the use of this new technology will shorten the processing time and will produce materials with enhanced properties (hardness, toughness and lifetime), mainly due to the novel microstructures that will be obtained. In addition it is predicted that the use of this process will bring significant energy consumption reduction in the sintering process.
EFFIPRO states that tools for machining operations will be produced using this new technology. Two types of parts will be machined, one for aerospace sector (made of Ti based materials or/and Carbon fibre composite) and the other for automotive sector (made of Fe based materials).
Objectives of the project are to:
- implement a new PM process
- introduce new materials to the market and help industry overcome the technical difficulties in their manufacturing processes
- reduce manufacturing costs
- substitute the use of critical elements and hazardous materials for more safe and environmentally friendly ones
- reduce energy consumption by 20% during the process
- increase the competitiveness of the European hard metals industry
- complete a life-cycle analysis (LCA)
- reduce by 25% the number of rejected parts
- reduce emissions of greenhouse gases by 40%
- reduce waste materials and increase the use of recycled materials by 10%
The implementation cost of this new technology is expected to be in the same range or even at lower level than the current industrial processes.