Microwaving metals with powdered perfection

October 31, 1999

Everyday metallic objects can now be made stronger, harder and longer-lasting thanks to a new process being developed by a research team at Pennsylvania State University, USA. The team, led by Professor Dinesh Agrawal, is using microwaves to sinter together powdered metals to form hard-wearing components ranging from small cylinders to automotive parts.

Using microwave technology has the advantage of heating the entire volume of the product rather than relying on the conduction of thermal energy throughout the part. The electromagnetic energy of the wave is efficiently converted into thermal energy helping to produce a finer grain size in the finished product than is produced through traditional sintering. These finer grains help improve the mechanical properties of the finished product as the finer round-edged pores give the finished product a higher ductility and toughness.

The team have so-fart spent little time analysing and understanding the science behind the process but once the team achieves this, says Agrawal, the new technology will be used for manufacturing metal parts for various applications. He argues, "Microwave processing offers a new method for meeting the demands of producing fine microstructures and better properties, at potentially lower cost."

Notes For Editors
1. This item is due to appear as an article in the November 1999 issue of Materials World. The article "Metal parts from microwaves" is written by Dinesh Agrawal. Materials World, Volume 7, Issue 11, page 672.
2. Brief contents of Materials World, The journal of The Institute of Materials, are also available on the web: www.materials.org.uk
3. The views and opinions expressed in this article are the views of the author and are not necessarily the views of Materials World, IoM Communications or any other organisation with which they are associated.

Institute of Materials

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