The global demand for amorphous alloy powders has been expanding at a rapid rate in recent years driven by the increasing demand for end products such as smart phones, notebook PCs, and electromagnetic shields for flat screen TVs. The amorphous magnetic alloy powders can be shaped into a variety of complex shapes such as inductors, choke coils, and reactors used to control voltages in electronic equipment.
As a result of this growing demand, Epson Atmix Corp., based in Hachinohe-shi, Aomori, Japan, has announced that it began volume production at the beginning of August 2012 of amorphous alloy powders at a new plant in Hachinohe using its unique spinning water atomisation process (SWAPTM).
The new SWAPTM plant represents an investment of approximately Yen 200 million ($2.55 million) and has a capacity to produce around 1000 tonnes/year of powder. It brings Epson Atmix’s total capacity for amorphous alloy powders by SWAPTM to approximately 1500 tonnes, and makes the company one of the few in the world that can bulk produce such amorphous powders.
The SWAPTM technology (see illustration) used by Epson Atmix was first developed by the company in 2004. The SWAPTM process is used to manufacture amorphous (non-crystalline) alloy powder by atomising an alloy that has first been melted in a high-frequency induction furnace with the molten metal, then being atomised using high-pressure gas and cooling water. Super-cooling at rates of several hundred thousand degrees Celsius per second effect rapid solidification.
The resulting amorphous alloy powders have high magnetic flux densities and low energy loss in addition to excellent high-frequency characteristics. Amorphous alloys are lightweight and also have excellent electric and thermal conductivities, as well as high tensile strength.
The characteristics of such amorphous alloy powders make them extremely attractive as performance-enhancing, highly functional material powders that enable small, low-power voltage control components and that support high frequencies and large currents.
The announcement of the start of production at the new amorphous alloy powder plant comes on the back of an announcement by Epson Atmix Corp. in June 2012 that it had begun construction of a new Yen 3.2 billion ($40 million) atomisation plant, also at its Hachinhohe site, to triple its current production capacity to 10,000 ton/year of superfine alloy powders. The new plant is scheduled to begin operations in the second half of 2013.
Posted by: Paul Whittaker, Editor ipmd.net, [email protected]