When machining, most people focus on the part or product they are producing. Purdue professor Srinivasan Chandrasekar and his colleague, Dale Compton, however, find the scrap most interesting. While studying machining processes, the researchers found that the metal chips produced were composed of nano-crystalline structures, which possessed characteristics such as high strength and wear resistance. "After that, we lost all interest in the more complicated processes and concentrated on the residue," Chandrasekar laughs. Typically the chips are collected as scrap, melted down and reused. But melting turns these natural nanocrystals back into ordinary bulk metals, removing their super strength and other unusual properties. "We've known that if a material is deformed beyond recognition, one can create a new stronger material with different characteristics," Chandrasekar continues. The shaving tool applies the correct amount of pressure to deform the metal shaving. He believes that a machining process could be designed to create materials with specific crystal sizes, which could have a number of applications. For example, the shavings could be made into powder and added to other materials to form a new class of composites. Or the powder could be compressed into solid bodies and used to build fuel system components, turbocharger blades, bearings, or gears with better wear resistance than those used today. Nanocrystal materials have long been a pie-in-sky material because they cost about $100 per pound to produce. Chandrasekar expects that, with the new patent pending process, will cost only $1 per pound above the cost of the raw material. For more information, contact either: Srinivasan Chandrasekar at (765) 494-3623, email: firstname.lastname@example.org; or Dale Compton at (765) 494-0828, email: email@example.com.
What if algae borne of fertilizer runoff that pollutes rivers and lakes could be harvested and used as biofuel feedstock? What if the leftovers could be recycled into farm soil nutrients, eliminating at least some of the need for artificial fertilizers in the first place? Western Michigan University researchers have a plan.
Manufacturers of plastic parts recognize the potential of conformal cooling to reduce molding cycle times. Problem is, conformal molds require additive manufacturing (AM), and technologies in that space are still evolving. Costs also can be high, and beyond that, many manufacturing organizations lack the knowledge and expertise needed to apply and incorporate additive technologies into their operations.
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