For a number of years Indutherm has now been investing in research and development and has participated in several national and international research projects with scientific institutions and specialists. Our clients benefit from the experience and capabilities that we acquire in these projects, and from the technological developments they engender.
BMWi sponsored ZIM projects
ZIM projects (“Zentrales Innovationsprogramm Mittelstand“ or “Central Innovation Programme for SMEs“) are cooperative R&D projects sponsored by the Federal Ministry for Economics and Technology (Bundesministeriums für Wirtschaft und Technologie – BMWi), especially for small to mid-sized businesses.
Under this initiative, Indutherm is developing new facilities in collaboration with research partners such as the Bergakademie Freiberg and the Research Institute for Precious Metals and Metals Chemistry (Forschungsinstitut für Edelmetalle und Metallchemie – FEM) in Germany.
Development of powder atomisation plants (Atomiser) for small-scale powder batch production
In the framework of a ZIM project* in collaboration with the University of Bremen we have been pushing the development of powder atomisation plants which have been particularly designed for the flexible and economic production of small-scale metal powder batches as traditional large-scale production plants cannot provide this economic advantage. Frequently changing alloys in production require high cleaning efforts to avoid cross contamination. Particularly in R&D or precious metal powder applications small amounts of various kinds of powder are frequently required, often also new types of alloy powder not available on the market. Especially fast developing applications like SLM and MIM require more and more specialised metal powder, but also for solder paste manufacturing, metal injection molding pigments for metal paints or for coating processes metal powders are required.
The Indutherm Atomiser is generally suitable for gas atomisation of a wide spectrum of alloys; such as for example those based on Cu, Au, Ag or Sn. The inductive heating takes place in graphite crucibles (prototype 1.5 l, later 0.3 – 12 l) up to a maximum temperature of around 1500°C – 1600°C, offering the possibility of degassing and oxidation-free processing by the means of vacuum and protective gas features. The new development features modular free fall and close coupled atomisation nozzles to obtain specific metal powder characteristics. It is also characterised by an increased powder quality as a result of flow optimisation in the spray chamber (avoidance of satellites).
We have now entered the next project stage: developing the Atomiser to make it suitable for higher temperatures and alloys based on Fe, Co, Ni, Pd…
The Fachverband Pulvermetallurgie e. V. (Powder Metallurgy Association) of the WSM Wirtschaftsverband Stahl- und Metallverarbeitung e.V. (Steel and Metal Processing Association) host the
Hagener Symposium 2013
“Modern production processes – quality and productivity in powder metallurgy”
in the city hall Hagen on November 28/29, 2013. We will be represented as exhibitors in Hagen, too, and we are looking forward to welcoming visitors from research and industry!
Development of a tilting casting machine for titanium and other reactive materials
AiF ZIM Project 2009-2011
As a highly reactive metal, titanium requires special conditions during the casting process. A new tilting casting machine especially designed for reactive metals should provide the optimum conditions for casting titanium. Based on the VTC 200 V tilting casting machine, the new VTC 200 V Ti unit was developed as part of the research project. Using numerous modifications primarily to optimise the tightness of the vacuum chamber, the conditions for a more complete vacuum were created. Special crucibles and inductors ensure that smelting times are kept short.
Development of a horizontal continuous casting unit
AiF ZIM Project 2008-2010
To be able to take full advantage of the benefits of horizontal casting, such as the almost unlimited length of the components being manufactured, Indutherm collaborated with the TU Freiberg to develop a new machine with a crucible volume of 12,000cm3, corresponding to almost 100kg of copper alloy. This new system is ideal for manufacturing semi-finished products with diameters of up to 200 x 20mm.
Casting simulations of known vertically running continuous casting processes (see video to left) contributed significantly to faster understanding of the problems of temperature distribution and interpreting mould geometry in a horizontal continuous casting unit and getting to grips with these.
CRAFT projects / Research for the benefits of SME’s (1998-2010)
CRAFT projects are EU sponsored, cooperative R&D projects especially for small and mid-sized businesses. Under this initiative, Indutherm has worked on various practical research issues and encouraged technological developments. This work was carried out in collaboration with the Forschungsinstitut für Edelmetalle und Metallchemie (FEM) in Germany, Politecnico di Torino, Sede di Alessandria (Italy), Birmingham City University (UK), TNO (NL) and various companies.
1998 – 2000 Quality and process improvement in gold jewellery casting
2002 – 2004 Improvement in silver jewellery casting, including use of computer simulation
2005 – 2007 Development of metal pressure technology using molten droplets / microgranulation
2008 – 2010 Innovation and top quality in gold jewellery fine casting