New equipment allows Ames Laboratory, ISU researchers to simulate commercial materials processing
Researchers at Iowa State University and the U.S. Department of Energy's Ames Laboratory have a new tool to help understand and fine-tune the processing of materials in a variety of commercial techniques. The Gleeble 3800 thermomechanical system was purchased by Iowa State University and recently installed in Ames Laboratory's Metals Development building. It lets researchers precisely control and measure what happens to materials during an array of industrial processes from casting and forging to sintering and extrusion.
"It allows us to do precise measuring and monitoring of physical simulations of complex processes," said Pete Collins, Iowa State University associate professor of Materials Science and Engineering and Ames Laboratory associate scientist. "It really enhances our capabilities in our additive manufacturing efforts."
The equipment uses resistive heating to bring samples quickly to the high temperatures needed to simulate melting, casting and welding - thousands of degrees in a few seconds. The electrical demands - enough power to run two average homes - were a primary reason for locating the equipment at Ames Laboratory. The equipment was part of Collins' research startup agreement when he accepted the faculty position at Iowa State roughly a year ago.
"It also made sense from a materials processing standpoint to have it located near the (Lab's) other additive manufacturing tools, such as the LENS (laser engineered net shaping) 3D printer," Collins said. "The Gleeble is a high-throughput system so we can rapidly test the array of alloy samples that the LENS system can produce. We can also take metal powders and simulate how those powders are processed under pressure and temperature to optimize the conditions for the best results."
The basic Gleeble 3800 system can perform a variety of different processes, but accepts a number of add-on features that expand the number and types of commercial processes it can simulate. Collins said he hopes those additional features will be purchased in the future to further enhance his group's research capabilities.
"We can answer questions for our manufacturing partners, such as the optimum temperature for processing a particular alloy," Collins said. "It helps get through the 'valley of death' in materials synthesis by providing information on some of the properties that industry needs to know."
"We can measure those properties precisely and do multiple, physical simulations quickly," Collins said, "as opposed to only having computational simulations. However, the two really go hand in hand - our measurements can validate and inform modeling simulations, and modeling can suggest the physical simulations we need to run."
Ames Laboratory is a U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science national laboratory operated by Iowa State University. Ames Laboratory creates innovative materials, technologies and energy solutions. We use our expertise, unique capabilities and interdisciplinary collaborations to solve global problems.
Ames Laboratory is supported by the Office of Science of the U.S. Department of Energy. The Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit science.energy.gov.