Banner
Metallurgy R&D
Wednesday | 12 August, 2020 | 1:24 pm

Material modification

Written by By Lindsey Besson

Above: Homogenous grades don’t always provide optimal performance; end users must make trade-offs between surface properties provided by the steel and its bulk properties.

Steel process uses existing infrastructures to provide corrosion-resistant, highly formable and better-performing material

August 2020 - Arcanum Alloys Inc., a technology-driven company, has created an altered process flow that meets current needs and anticipates future commercial applications. Arcanum Alloys’ proprietary process, called spatially optimized diffusion alloy (SODA), is altering steel processing to serve innovators that demand better performance.

Originally founded in 2011, this Silicon Valley startup moved to Kentwood, Michigan, to expand its team and bring its technology to commercial scale. Arcanum Alloys’ SODA process was developed on 1-square-inch panels in the laboratory but has since scaled to the production of 20-ton coils.

“Our process is disrupting current metallurgical methods and steel manufacturing as we know it. This revolutionary technology possesses the solution for products across many evolving industries,” says Arcanum Alloys’ founder and CEO, Dan Bullard.

MM 0820 metallurgy image1

Optiform, a stainless steel alternative, can be used in appliances, architecture and automotive exhausts.

Bullard earned a PhD in materials sciences and spent 18 years working for integrated steelmakers, including ArcelorMittal and U.S. Steel Corp., in roles involving laboratory research, process improvement on the manufacturing floor and quality control.

Until now, steel manufacturing has revolved around mass production and margin optimization. Traditionally, sheet steel is produced via a melt phase process, whereby all of the alloying elements required for a given grade of steel are added to the molten steel. This production, designed to produce a homogeneous material, also creates logistical difficulties for high-volume mills because each grade can require different processing parameters on each unit. This ultimately results in large work-in-process inventories.

MM 0820 metallurgy image3

Opticore helps to increase the power density and efficiency of electric motors.

Trade-offs

Additionally, these homogeneous grades do not always provide optimal performance and end users are forced to make trade-offs between the surface properties provided by the steel and its bulk properties. (For materials, bulk properties are defined by grain size and grain size distribution, density and other features.) As an example of a trade-off, the addition of chrome to steel creates a corrosion-resistant, aesthetically pleasing surface. However, it also makes the material work harden much faster than steel without chrome. The high work-hardening rate can increase tooling costs or limit the design flexibility for a given part. Similar trade-offs can be found in electrical steel, where performance improvements are observed in steel grades that have elevated surface concentrations of silicon, cobalt and aluminum.

Through changing the order of operations and exploiting chemical science, Arcanum Alloys is able to mitigate the aforementioned trade-offs. Arcanum Alloys applies a proprietary slurry, a paint-like solution, before the annealing phase, and then sends the steel coil through a cleaning line to remove the non-alloyed slurry remnant.

Through a chemical vapor deposition and diffusion process, SODA decouples surface properties from bulk properties to better tailor the resultant material to customer needs and product enhancement. This process can retain the bulk material properties while still providing alloyed functionality by adding these elements only where they provide value, on the surface. This is not a coating but a metallurgically bonded alloy layer and a true material modification.

Arcanum Alloys’ team has tailored these developments to create a technology that is easily integrated into any existing manufacturing infrastructure, ensuring that their products do not require costly capital expenditures to implement.

Arcanum Alloys has two commercialized products, but its breakthrough in steel processing technology is redefining steel standards across a vast number of industries.

MM 0820 metallurgy image2

After 1,000 hours of humidity exposure: (left to right) Optiform, Galvanized Pipe, Black Pipe. Source: Arcanum Alloys Inc.

Stainless steel alternative

The first product, Optiform, is a stainless steel alternative. With applications ranging from appliances to fire suppression, architecture to automotive exhausts, Optiform’s performance is competitive in any stainless sheet market, according to an April 2020 technical paper published by Arcanum and automotive supplier Tenneco Inc. with the Society of Automotive Engineers.

Arcanum Alloys starts with a low-carbon steel coil and then, through the SODA process, diffuses chrome into the surface of the steel, creating a metallurgically bonded alloy. By doing this, Arcanum Alloys can create a more functional, formable and corrosion-resistant product. Unlike other methods, this technology enables the ability to customize elements and boost corrosion resistance.

Optiform typically has 25 percent chrome content at the surface, which offers good corrosion and high-temperature oxidation resistance. Used in appliances, Optiform’s superior formability reduces scrap rates by 10 to 15 percent, which means greater material yield and the ability to develop more complex designs. This increased formability also allows stainless and prepainted parts to be configured on a single production line with no change in settings or tooling.

Most recently Arcanum Alloys’ technology was leveraged by Bull Moose Tube Co. to launch its Hydrologic brand. Using the SODA process, Bull Moose and Arcanum partnered to produce sprinkler pipe. In fire-suppression applications, Optiform far outperformed standard galvanized pipe in corrosion protection, flow rate, life span and cost, according to a recent study (see graphic, above).

MM 0820 metallurgy image4

Arcanum’s SODA process was developed on 1-square-inch panels in the laboratory.

Electrical steel

Due to an increasing demand for high-quality electrical steels in transportation, Arcanum Alloys is launching its second product, Opticore. Using the SODA technology, Arcanum Alloys has pioneered this high-performance electrical steel with superior induction and low core loss. Initial sheet will come in gauges from 0.01 to 0.002 inch.

By changing the alloy composition, the use of Opticore helps to increase the power density and efficiency of electric motors, ultimately improving motor performance. Opticore also enables the production of high-performance electrical steels without the specialty melt casting and hot-rolling equipment that the standard process requires. Opticore will be available for commercial validation this fall. This breakthrough in electrical steels is expected to contribute to the development of next-generation motor, generator, transformer and other applications.

Arcanum Alloys’ SODA process outperforms standardized methods due to its functionality, corrosion performance and manufacturing flexibility. Bullard and his team pledge that more new products will emerge from Arcanum Alloys’ development pipeline in the near future. MM

LATEST ISSUE 
MM Cover0917 digital

vert-current-linewhiteOCTOBER 2021

Demand Exceeds Supply

‘All segments’ of the U.S. manufacturing economy struggle with commodity shortages, long lead times and high prices.

>VERTICAL SCROLL DIGITAL EDITION

sandmeyersteel web banner

COE FAQ

SMU 330x100 Training

Enmark 333x100 Banner

Modern Metals on Twitter

Instagram - @ModernMetalsMag

Banner

Company Profiles

AIR FILTRATION

DEBURRING/FINISHING

NESTING SOFTWARE

SOFTWARE

Camfil APC - Equipment ATI Industrial Automation Metamation Inc. 4GL Solutions
Camfil APC - Replacement Filters Lissmac Corp.

PLASMA TECHNOLOGY

Enmark Systems Inc.

ALUMINUM

Osborn Messer Cutting Systems Inc. Lantek Systems Inc.
Richardson Metals, Inc. Supermax Tools

PLATE

SigmaTEK Systems LLC

BEVELING

Timesavers Churchill Steel Plate

STAINLESS STEEL

Steelmax Tools LLC

LASER TECHNOLOGY

Peddinghaus Heyco Metals

COIL PROCESSING

AMADA AMERICA Inc.

PRESS BRAKE TOOLING

STEEL

Braner USA Inc. MC Machinery Systems Inc. Rolleri USA Alliance Steel
Burghardt + Schmidt Group TRUMPF Inc.

PRESS BRAKES

North American Steel Alliance
Butech Bliss

MATERIAL HANDLING

MC Machinery Systems Inc.

TITANIUM

Red Bud Industries Fehr Warehouse Solutions Inc.

PUNCHING

STS Metals
The Bradbury Group Steel Storage Systems Hougen Manufacturing

TUBE & PIPE

Tishken UFP Industrial

SAWING

BLM Group

CONVEYOR SYSTEMS

MEASUREMENT & QUALITY CONTROL

Advanced Machine & Engineering Prudential Stainless & Alloys
Mayfran International Advanced Gauging Technologies Behringer Saws Inc.

WATERJET TECHNOLOGY

COPPER & BRASS

METAL FABRICATING MACHINERY

DoALL Sawing Products Barton International
Concast Metal Products Co. Cincinnati Inc. HE&M Saw Flow International Corporation
Copper and Brass Servicenter Association LVD Strippit Savage Saws Jet Edge Waterjet Systems
Farmers Copper Scotchman Industries

SERVICE CENTERS

ZINC

 

Trilogy Machinery Inc. Admiral Steel Jarden Zinc Products

 

 

Alliance Steel

 


BPA_WW_MASTER.jpg