October 4, 2006 -- Consolidated Engineering Co. has completed field testing on its new heat-treating technology, CleanCast, which uses low volumes of high-pressure heated air to rapidly heat-treat and/or thermally de-core castings. After extended testing at the company's R&D facility the process was subjected to comprehensive trials with a mobile, compact testing unit at a working foundry that produces automotive castings.
The CleanCast concept uses air nozzles arranged closely to impinge on the subject parts, and it handles parts directly with robotic systems on entry and exit from the furnace system -- no baskets or trays. CEC explains these details lower capital costs, simplify cellular process arrangements, reduce operating costs, and lead to various process benefits. Among these it lists rapid de-coring capability, heat-treating process consistency, short cycle heat-treatment, flexible plant arrangements and, reduced process inventories, among others.
CEC explains that in its field testing it sought to prove that “castings obtain higher properties and shorter cycle times when loaded into the furnace at higher temperatures,” a principle it has patented as “the process critical temperature/time relationship.” By taking hot castings directly after pouring and placing them into the CleanCast furnace before they cool, residual heat is employed in the heat-treating process so less energy and time are required to treat the casting and achieve optimal properties.
CEC says that extensive testing in the working foundry setting validated the principle. It adds that the testing also proved that high-pressure, high-impact hot-air nozzles promote rapid de-coring of complex cast parts. Several of the other anticipated benefits were demonstrated, too, the company reports.
“This is the first of many tests that we hope to conduct in working foundries,” according to CEO president Paul M. Crafton. “We built this mobile test equipment to show potential customers, in their own foundries, that our equipment is superior to the traditional heat treatment options on the market today.”