Thursday, October 31, 2013

Thixoforming: Manufacturing Parts in One Step

When new technology appears, there's always someone who sees the potential and runs with it.  Here is news out of Germany about a new, potentially much more efficient way to manufacture automotive and aircraft parts, just waiting for someone to recognize the potential.

Following years of research, the technology involving thixoforming, or the shaping of metals in a semi-solid state, is yielding results.  Shown here, two of the same parts for the auto industry, one created through a traditional four-step process, the other by the one-step thixoforming process(Credit: Image courtesy of Basque Research)

Following years of research, the technology involving thixoforming, or the shaping of metals in a semi-solid state, is beginning to yield results.
CIC marGUNE, the Co-operative Research Centre for High-performance Manufacturing, is exploring the possibility of modifying the current process to manufacture parts for the automotive industry, thanks to thixoforming technology. This research is being conducted in collaboration with CIE-Legazpi and Mondragon University in Germany.
The current process to manufacture parts for the automotive industry usually consists of three or four steps. The researchers are exploring the possibility of modifying this process basing it on thixoforming technology. "The aim is to produce the final part in a single step, which would bypass the whole process in between," pointed out Mikel Intxausti of the company CIE-Legazpi.

From lab to industry
While there is no manufacturer using this process, engineer Jokin Lozares is working with a clear aim to transfer thixoforming from the laboratories to industry. Lozares and his co-researchers have  reduced to a single step what in industry currently requires three or four.

Thixoforming is a process in which the material is kept between a liquid and solid state and is shaped in that semi-solid state which offers certain advantages with respect to the conventional method of forging.  According to Lozares, Thixoforming technology ~
  • uses about 20% less material than forging,
  • reduces three or four steps to a single step,
  • allows infinitely more complex geometries to be achieved, while finding that
  • thixoformed parts are lasting longer than expected.
According to Lozares, "We are even looking at the possibility of working with materials more advanced than steel with the aeronautical industry in mind mainly," he added.
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Story Source: The above story is based on materials provided by Basque Research (2013, October 21). Manufacturing auto parts in a single step. ScienceDaily.

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