Sintering technology is ruled by complex engineering equations. There are holding temperatures and material characteristics to regulate, plus a slew of phase transforming processes to regulate. Simply put, there are recipes to follow, and those recipes contain a whole lot of mathematically controlled elements. Nothing is left to chance. Of those many processing variables, sintering temperature is regarded as a major recipe catalyser. Come on, let’s see what’s cooking.
What Is Sintering Temperature?
Leaving the kitchen-themed metaphors behind, we return to manufacturing science, to elements that form the backbone of what’s known collectively as powder metallurgical processing. Sintering temperatures, the structure manipulating parameter under our virtual microscope today, control key morphological properties within P/M produced products. The porosity fraction rises or falls, dependent on this value. Mechanical properties vary, grain sizes grow and shrink, all because the sintering temperature is varied by a process engineer or an automated program, one that’s seeking the correct features balance, as desired by a quoted application.
Calculating the Thermal Values
If the material and structural characteristics of a sintered component alter as the temperature varies, the ability to calculate and then set a sintering temperature gives us mastery over a product’s shape and mechanical strengths. Porosity properties also fall under the sway of this controllable process parameter. That being said, how are sintering temperatures calculated? To answer that question, imagine the formula constants. The constants in question are determined by the alloying metal, by carbon content, and several other incomprehensible formula coefficients. Complicating matters, the compaction technique and furnace temperature profile affect the product’s strength, porosity and dimensional symmetry.
The Software-Facilitated Answer
As talented as a process engineer must be, this smart individual can’t park himself next to the sintering equipment with a notepad and pen while he taps numbers into an electronic calculator. No, this is a job for a specialized software package. Capable of running millions of sintering temperature calculations per second, the software carries out simulations, compiles compaction-related datasets, and it generally controls the atmosphere within the sintering furnace, even as it simultaneously monitors compaction pressure.
Generally speaking, the goal is to keep the sintering temperature below its melting point. Sintered particles fuse, they don’t melt. To make this process possible, the furnace heats the powder until it’s roughly two-thirds of the way towards its melting point. Of course, generalities are avoided in science, although they serve us well when we’re looking for a quick and dirty set of processing guidelines. From here, the software takes over by plugging scores of process manipulating engineering datasets into dozens of complicated equations.