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Powder Metallurgy, Plastics Processing and Assembly Platform

Published on 18 January 2022


Powder Metallurgy, Plastics Processing and Assembly Platform 

High-added-value components and equipment

The Powder Metallurgy, Plastics Processing, and Assembly Platform develops and manufactures high-added-value components from metal, ceramic, semiconducting, magnetic, and thermoplastic powders, as well as solid metal and ceramic parts. The platform prepares the powders and uses additive manufacturing, HIP (hot isostatic pressing), and brazing to obtain parts with complex geometries with near net shape results, reducing the need for extra surface finishing steps. It is also home to characterization equipment and digital design, modeling, and simulation tools.

Plastics processing techniques like extrusion and injection molding, additive manufacturing techniques like UV-curing, extrusion, and binder jet printing), hot isostatic pressing, and brazing are all used at the platform. These near net shape techniques reduce the amount of raw material used and limit the need for additional finishing steps, potentially lowering costs.

Before manufacturing, the raw materials are prepared to optimize the finished part's properties. When metal, ceramic, magnetic, plastic, and other powders are used, properties can be fine tuned in a way that is impossible with the material in its solid state. Tiny parts with complex shapes, lightweight hollow structures, dielectric components with high thermal conductivity, energy recovery devices, and high-performance magnets can all be manufactured in this way. Last, but not least, different processes can be combined to produce complex multi-material components.

   The R&D unit

The Powder Metallurgy, Plastics Processing, and Assembly Platform has a complete line of semi-industrial equipment. It can handle all component manufacturing process steps:

  • Powder formulation and preparation

  • Injection molding, pressing, or printing

  • De-binding and sintering

  • Strip casting and the associated characterization techniques

The platform positions CEA-Liten as a leader in the development of high-performance NdFeB permanent magnets, with know-how spanning all industrial manufacturing process steps.

   The assembly unit 

is home to a uniquely broad range of equipment covering all steps in the production process:

  • Design of assemblies and associated processes: SolidWorks and Catia CAD software for parts and systems of varying complexity
  • Modeling/simulation: Abaqus, Castem
  • Brazing: chemical room, furnaces with process atmospheres for carbon and metal
  • Diffusion welding and powder metallurgy: HIP (hot isostatic pressing) chamber, HUC (hot uniaxial compression) chamber, glove box for handling powders, and a workshop and two chemical rooms for preparing part surfaces

These activities are backed by a variety of characterization techniques:

  • Mechanical characterization: 26 testing machines (tensile, compression, torsion, creep, impact, hardness, micro-hardness, fatigue, crack propagation), some of which can be used at high temperature and under different gases (neutral gas, hydrogen)
  • Thermal characterization in controlled atmospheres (air, neutral, H2): thermogravimetric and differential thermal analysis, dilatometry
  • Physicochemical analysis: SEM, variable-focus optical microscope, glow discharge spectrometer, and C, O, N, and S analysis

 

CEA-Liten is also engaged in multiple research, development, and innovation projects around powder metallurgy backed by the EU and the French government. CALHIPSO, which received a French government EquipEx grant, involves an academic partner (Université de Bourgogne) and is financed by the French National Research Agency (ANR). This industry-building project is particularly ambitious.