Spray Forming Group
INL spray forming is an advanced materials processing technology that converts molten metal to a near-net-shape solid or coating by depositing atomized droplets onto a suitably shaped substrate or pattern. It offers both technical and economic benefits. For example, rapid solidification greatly limits segregation in metals, resulting in a homogeneous, fine-grained microstructure with a uniform distribution of secondary phases. Solid solubility extension is common and can lead to unique combinations of strength, hardness, thermal fatigue resistance, etc. that cannot be achieved by conventional processing. Spray forming can therefore provide a processing tool for the development of new alloy systems and heat treatment practices. Economic benefits result from process simplification and the elimination of unit operations in metal fabrication and manufacturing. There are a wide variety of applications which include:
Molds, dies and related tooling for forging, die casting, stamping, injection molding, blow molding, extrusion, excavation, etc.
Flat products such as strip, sheet and plate
Clad metal structures
Selective reinforcement of structural elements
Coatings for metals and nonmetals
Cylindrical and tubular products
Metal matrix composites
Membranes for chemical separations
The first of these applications, termed “RSP Tooling,” has resulted in an R&D 100 Award, an Energy@ 23 Award, and a Federal Laboratory Consortium Award for INL. It was commercialized with the formation of RSP Tooling, LLC in Solon, OH. The spray forming group has generated 32 scientific journal and conference proceedings publications since 2000, and has been awarded 5 U. S. Patents and multiple foreign patents.