Tecnalia reduces costs of metal casting with plasma technology

September 23, 2011

Tecnalia Research & Innovation is undertaking the innovation of casting processes with its "plasma torch." This new system enables great precision when heating the metal, thus reducing operational costs, enhancing metallurgical quality and saving energy.

To achieve this end, Tecnalia made use of a High-Powered Thermal Plasma, enabling heating the necessary quantity of metal at the required temperature and at the precise moment of casting, when the molten metal has to be poured from the furnace or ladle. Precision in this process is fundamental, as overheated metal oxidises easily and can lose its characteristics to the point of invalidating it for the production of parts. This is why the temperature of fusion has to be controlled to the maximum.

The "plasma torch" enables programming the range of temperature at which it is desired to cast the metal and maintain this automatically over the whole period of the casting process. Besides, the exclusive characteristic that the plasma provides is that this operation can be undertaken using an external heating element, separate from the furnace itself, facilitating maintenance tasks and thus reducing general costs of casting.

The success of the system was quickly evident thanks to the marketing efforts of SERT Metal, the company which has been licensed to commercially exploit the patent. The Bizkaia-based blast furnace company Fuchosa and the Valladolid-based Lingotes Especiales already have this equipment at their installations and underline its high performance.

Elhuyar Fundazioa

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