Utron Inc. has developed a combustion gas chamber to quickly compress metallic powders into small parts, and eventually mass-produce small and big components based on the process. It's one of many efforts by powder-metallurgy scientists to take talcum, powder-size grains of metals and turn them into pressed parts. Current methods use pressure and heat to slowly press out small batches of parts. Making large parts in this fashion requires long exposure to heat, with possible undesirable molecular changes resulting. With the combustion gas chamber process, Utron hopes to mass-produce parts "on millisecond time scales," according to Dr. Arul Mozhie, Utron senior scientist. The Utron process evolved from pulsed power and high-pressure combustion technologies developed for hypervelocity launch and other defense applications. The process uses high-pressure pulses, produced by the controlled combustion of propellants, to consolidate the tiny copper and steel powders Utron made using a higher momentum flux gas medium. The work was pursued under a contract awarded by the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization. FAX (703) 369-5298
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