I just came across an article in Advanced Materials and Processes, Volume
153, No. 4, April 1998, on page 18 which describes the Rapid Solidification
Process (RSP). The technology is a sophisticated spray-forming process in
which hot, inert gas atomizes molten metal alloy in a specially designed
and patented spray gun. The article goes on to say that the developers are
currently producing three-inch tooling inserts for the evaluation phase
(for rapid tooling technology). The plan is to scale up to six-inch and
then 12-inch inserts fabricated with multiple spray nozzles and robotic
manipulation. Sounds like they're aiming for some of 3D's KelTool market.
The contact for more information is:
Lockheed Martin Idaho Technologies Company
P.O. Box 1625
Idaho Falls, ID 83415-3695
Tel: (208) 526-1693
Fax: (208) 526-5034
I believe Sandia Labs are also working on a similar metal spray forming
Another similar process which may be the one you heard about is Howmet's
Spraycast-X process for creating large, near-net shaped components from
superalloys. Howmet combined a technique for spraying atomized metal with
its own experience in vacuum melting of superalloys to create Spraycast.
Once proven in less-demanding applications, the Spraycast technology, which
results in a homogeneous microstructure, could find use in the hot section
of turbine engines. Sprayform Technologies International LLC, a joint
venture of Howmet Corp. and Pratt & Whitney, will have a 6,000-lb melt
capacity vacuum induction furnace (3rd qtr 1998) with the capability to
produce components that are 60 in. in diameter and 60 in. long!
(information excerpted from article in Aviation Week & Space
Technology/April 20, 1998, pages 72-73).
A superalloy spray formed sculpture would be neat and practically
indestructible for outdoor displays but material-wise it could get real
expensive depending on the size!!
For more information about the rp-ml, see http://ltk.hut.fi/rp-ml/
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