New alloys and composites could become available to the aerospace industry using a plasma reactor furnace-like heat treatment process.

Ohio-based technology company Dana has developed the device, which uses plasma and microwaves for carburising, sintering powered metals, brazing metals, combining glass and metal and super-carburising light carbon steels by adding more carbon. It now aims to license the device for others to build for heat treatment and coating uses. Its principal advantage over a furnace, the company says, is that furnaces require a long time to reach the right temperature, are limited in what they can achieve and temperature control can be problematic.

The plasma reactor process, says microwave technology research and development manager Satyndra Kumar, could produce titanium from titanium oxide more cheaply than traditional methods for the metals used in aerospace applications, and to coat small used parts with tungsten or titanium-based coatings to extend their life. "We can also add strength and hardness to enhance component properties," he says.

The reactor is a chamber with a gas source that is ionised, and a microwave source. The plasma, which could contain the material to be deposited on a surface, surrounds the part and microwaves transmitted at the part bond the deposition material to the surface.



Source: Flight International