To minimize the production cost and time of the heat treatment of critical application aluminum castings within the automotive industry a combined hot isostatic pressing (HIP)/solution heat treat process is desired. A successfully combined process would produce parts of equal quality to those produced by the individual processes of HIP and subsequent heat treatment with increased efficiency in time and energy. In this study, an experimental combined process was designed and implemented in a production facility. Industrially produced aluminum castings were subjected to the combined process and results were quantified via tensile and fatigue testing and microscopic examination. Comparisons in fatigue and tensile strength were made to raditionally HIPed and heat treated samples, as well as un-HIPed samples in the T6 condition. Results show that castings produced with the combined process show fatigue properties that are equal in magnitude to castings produced with the independent HIP and heat treatment processes. Furthermore, an order of magnitude improvement in the fatigue life in those castings that were produced with the combined process exists compared to the castings that were only heat treated. This study shows no difference in the tensile properties that result from any of the processing routes compared. Also, microstructural comparison of the castings processed show no difference between the process routes other than porosity, which is only evident in the un-HIPed samples. Dendrite cell size and dendritic structure of the samples that were solutionized for the same time is identical. Theoretical examination of the combined process was also completed to quantify the energy consumption of the combined process compared to the independent processes. Thermodynamic calculations revealed that the energy consumed by the combined process for a typically loaded HIP vessel is fifty percent less than the energy required to process the same quantity of castings with the two individual processes. However, it was determined that a critical ratio of the volume occupied in the HIP vessel by castings to the total HIP vessel volume exists that ultimately determines the efficiency of the combined process. This critical ratio was calculated to be approximately fifteen percent. If the volume ratio is less than fifteen percent then the combined process is less energy efficient then conventional processing. These thermodynamic calculations were experimentally verified with power consumption process data in a production facility. In addition, the time required for the combined process of HIP and solution heat treatment was calculated as thirty-percent less than the conventional two-step process. This calculation was verified via the comparison of data compiled from the experimental combined process.
Worcester Polytechnic Institute
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Diem, Matthew M., "Development of a combined hot isostatic pressing and solution heat-treat process for the cost effective densification of critical aluminum castings" (2003). Masters Theses (All Theses, All Years). 19.
hot isostatic pressing, aluminum castings, heat treatment, Densal, Aluminum castings, Heat treatment