Avure Technologies is due to supply its Quintus® HIP system to Alcoa Howmet for the expansion of its hot-isostatic press operation at Whitehall, MI. The $22-million project at the investment-casting foundry was announced in June, another move by Alcoa to enhance its aerospace production capabilities, specifically a "growing demand" for titanium and nickel-alloy jet-engine components.
The new machine also will support Alcoa’s growing volume of 3D-printed jet engine parts. It will be the ninth and largest HIP system Alcoa has installed at Whitehall.
Hot-isostatic pressing, or HIP, is a thermal forming process in which heat and pressure are applied to cast products (e.g., turbine blades, engine structural parts) simultaneously in a controlled sequence, aiming to improve the mechanical and structural properties of the component.
Avure is a Swedish company that develops the ultra-high pressure systems for forming metal parts, and has installed over 1,700 high-pressure systems worldwide. Its QIH286 HIP will have a patented Uniform Rapid Cooling (URC) technology, for high productivity with optimal temperature control. The system will operate at a pressure of 2,000 bar (29,000 psi) and a temperature of 1,250°C (2282°F). Its 1.6-m (5.25-ft) diameter and 2.6-m (8.5-ft) high work zone will expand Alcoa’s in-house capacity for treating larger parts for jet engines.
It will be the largest HIP unit operating in the U.S. at that pressure rating, according to the developer.
“Alcoa Howmet is well known for meeting the exacting demands of the aerospace and industrial markets with precision investment castings of superalloy, titanium, and aluminum alloys,” stated Avure’s Peter Henning, business unit director of Advanced Material Densification. “When one of the most experienced and skillful HIP users in the world chooses our solution, it makes a strong quality statement for our Quintus technology.”
The completed HIP installation will be available to begin qualifying finished parts by 2016, according to Alcoa.