January 26th, 2022

The MRI of Vacuum Arc Furnace Systems

Consarc’s vice-president of technology Andrew Elliott, and Ampere Scientific’s founder and CEO Paul King, reveal how the introduction of VARmetric is bringing data science to vacuum arc remelting.

Imagine the grueling environment in which an aircraft engine must function. Intense stress. Extreme temperatures. High stakes. And that engine is only as safe and reliable as its parts. So, every day, millions of lives depend on safe, durable engine components working properly to transport passengers, crew, and cargo from point A to point B. Additionally, the market’s expectations keep increasing. Those safe, reliable engines must also be lightweight, efficient, and eco-friendly. Quality has never been more important, and the definition of ‘quality’ is growing more complex and challenging.

But manufacturers can only push engine parts as far as their processes – and technologies – allow. Today’s manufacturing processes won’t produce the aircraft engine components of tomorrow. Meeting those exacting standards calls for a revolution in metal producing, where impeccable processes and precision equipment deliver supreme confidence in the material’s ability to achieve maximum performance.

Material safe limits

As OEMs develop new alloys and processes to improve part safety and performance, metal producers must ensure their processes are keeping pace. But even they cannot fully determine the exact limits of a material. An ingot’s metallurgical quality cannot be fully known until it exits the production line, and then only after extensive testing.

Some quality measurements can be captured during the melt stage, but the process of melting and forming ingots is long, complicated and often occurs where human senses cannot go: for example, inside the intensely hot, controlled environment of a vacuum arc remelting (VAR) furnace. VAR furnaces are the workhorses the specialty metals industry uses to remelt and refine high-value metals and alloys (for example nickel, titanium, zirconium, and niobium), including those used in critical engine components for commercial and military aircraft. 

Advancements in VAR technology have given operators the advantage of basic metrics to monitor and manage the melting process, enabling them to produce high-quality, durable metals to withstand the most demanding conditions and meet the most precise specifications. And yet, the work-in-progress is largely invisible. Until now.

Curiosity and a drive to truly master the intricate science of melting led Consarc to explore how combining data science with VAR remelting technology could advance vacuum arc remelting and yield higher-quality aircraft engine parts. Since patenting Automatic Melt Control for remelting furnaces in the late 1970s, a technology that’s become a trusted, ever-improving force in metal manufacturing, Consarc aspired to build on its innovation to take the next great leap forward. Ampere Scientific’s VARmetric is the game-changing technology Consarc sought.

Together, Consarc and Ampere Scientific can provide never before captured data, gathered and processed in real-time during the melt, to improve melt consistency and ingot quality. This partnership gives manufacturers more confidence in their components, helping the next generation of aircraft fly lighter, faster, stronger, and safer.

To learn more about how Consarc and Amphere-Scientific are changing the course of Vacuum Arc Remelting, click here.

Source: Aerospace Manufacturing