Skip to main content
European Commission logo print header

Technology for Titanium High Quality Customized Products (TECUS)

Final Report Summary - TECUS (Technology for titanium high quality customised products)

The main technical objective of the project TECUS was to develop an easy handling, fully automated, reliable, new titanium casting technology capable to cast up to150 gr of Ti of excellent metallurgical quality and in a reproducible and reliable process. To attain this objective the following partial objectives had to be addressed:
- development of a new melting device using cold crucible induction melting system to avoid contaminating titanium;
- Development of a reliable and reproducible process.
- Development of an automatic machine to produce reliable and reproducible cast components. The process would be aided by centrifugal casting, and monitored and controlled electronically, defining as main control parameter the temperature of the Titanium. The aim was to develop a reliable and reproducible process able to cope with the presently demanding quality requirements.
- Development of an easy comprehensive procedure to eliminate human errors. Code of best practice for the production of titanium cast components in the new technology. The aim was to develop an easy comprehensive procedure to eliminate the human errors in the casting of titanium.

During the first 12 month of the project, the performed tasks have been focused in the design, manufacturing and integration of the machine components. Machine specifications and conceptual design were developed and agreed by all the project partners. The end of the first work package leaded to the detailed design phase, including all the machine modules (heating, vacuum, centrifugal casting, control…) and from mechanical, electrical and software points of view.

These designing stages derived in a collection of drawings, electrical schemes, and software and control flow diagrams that were made physical by manufacturing, selection and purchase of commercial components and their integration.

An operative machine was assembled capable of fulfilling all the requirements included in the specifications document. The machine modules were controlled by a PLC interfaced by a tactile screen. All the parameters are displayed in the screen to have a total control of the process. The software leaves the possibility of working in a sequential manual way of control or in a totally automated mode. These two possibilities were considered with the aim of specifying all the needed parameters and to know the machine behaviour and performance characteristics. The totally automated mode has to be adjusted during the first melting and casting tests that are being performed in the actual stage of the project.

At the same time, numerous titanium melting test have been performed with CNRS laboratory cold crucible prototype aimed to the definition of the process parameters to be implemented by the developed machine and also to explore the possibilities of the machine.

The second year of the project started with the performing of the first casting tests with the manufactured TECUS prototype first version. Several tests were performed in order to evaluate prototype operability and its compliance with the specifications document set in previous work packages. This task led to a task of redesigning the different modules up to reach the final design and production route.

Once the machine design was stated as finished and validated, a code of best practice was elaborated describing machine operating mode and parameters definition. This code of best practice set the procedure for future tests and parts production.

Next stage was focused on parts production. The end users of the consortium proposed specimens that they were casting or producing at their respective facilities and with existing technologies to be produced by the new developed TECUS machine. Four parts were selected as typical components of the SMEs in the main features acceptable by the TECUS machine (minimum wall thickness, different sizes, massive and thin areas etc.).

These selected four parts were produced by the SMEs and also by the TECUS machine. Wax models were produced for each part, from those wax models refractory moulds were manufactured and finally the parts were successfully cast in the TECUS machine.

Lots of tests were produced due to foundry inherent development difficulties. Machine prototype worked properly and provided the performance expected from the design and manufacturing stages. The number of tests performed was very high due to the foundry difficulties encountered. Casting acceptable parts requests a development process that could not be avoided. Filling of the moulds, feeding systems in the mould, gas entrapments, centrifugal forces, refractory material selection, surface finishing improvement related to the wax model and refractory surface finishing brought into scene a lot of foundry development work that finally resulted in the production of several acceptable parts from each previously selected part model. Once the process was adjusted for every part the machine was able to produce reproducible parts in an automatic operating mode.

With the TECUS produced parts, a comparison between existing technologies and TECUS technology was carried out. The comparison was based on the different specifications for each part. A deep metallurgical analysis was to be carried out in order to detect the soundness of the demonstrators. The corresponding chemical analysis was also carried out to ascertain the degree of contamination in the samples, chemical composition, nature and extension of the 'a' case, microstructure etc. Mechanical analysis were also performed onto the produced parts and onto specifically cylindrical samples produced for the characterisation.

A technical evaluation was carried out with the results obtained from the characterisation performed. This evaluation confronted obtained results from TECUS produced parts with the results obtained from the characterisation of the parts produced by conventional technologies and with the objectives of the project set in the early stages of the project.

An exploitation plan has also been drawn in the correspondent work package. A dissemination plan has been also discussed and proposed.

A cold crucible Titanium melting and centrifugal casting machine has been developed and manufactured. Successful tests have been carried out with different titanium masses (10-150 g.) in the same cold crucible. Vacuum levels of 1 mbar have been achieved as maximum with around 100 mbar of pressure values when centrifugation.

A compact and integrated machine has been manufactured with an easy and visual display and a tactile control screen as human interface. The machine integrates several sensors which permit a safe and totally controllable process. The software includes several warning subroutines that inform in every moment about the status of the different process parameter values. The fixtures and dismountable components of the machine have been designed user friendly and safe.

A data base with melting parameters has been elaborated with the aim of knowing the machine parameters working with different titanium masses. This data base has been developed by means of a battery of tests performed on another laboratory cold crucible melting prototype.

Produced parts characterisation results were compared with the results obtained on conventionally produced parts. Results in terms of chemical composition, microstructure, porosity and oxygen content can be declared as very good. Mechanical properties and surface finishing results can be assessed as very promising.

Conventional parts showed better results in terms of toughness and utilised wax model finishing in some of the parts was not the best. In any case, these results (toughness and finishing) are related to the refractory material used and the production route of the mould. These aspects have not been fully developed during the project due to a lack of time and resources. The main objective of these tasks was concerned to the validation of the developed machine and from this point of view the machine produced parts satisfactorily and with a good reproducibility.