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The first 2500°C industrial furnace, for higher efficiency and up to 5 times higher strength materials

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - CARBIDE2500 (The first 2500°C industrial furnace, for higher efficiency and up to 5 times higher strength materials)

Reporting period: 2019-05-01 to 2020-04-30

Cemented carbides are high performance materials used in a broad range of industrial fields and production processes. They are currently considered almost indispensable, due to the ever-increasing demand on tools, materials and precision processing as a result of the development of new complex products and new modern materials. Cemented carbides have a high wear resistance and therefore substantially increased tool life and related minimum downtimes of mechanical machining. The demand for complex and/or multi-material components is growing significantly, in particular, for new high strength carbides.
Cemented carbides are composite materials consisting of tungsten-carbide (WC), which is an extremely hard material, and a relatively soft binding material, such as cobalt (Co). The characteristics of the WC-powder used to produce a cemented carbide have a major influence on its achievable hardness and wear resistance. Research results in literature indicate, that a higher carburization temperature of 2500°C could lead to an increase in the hardness and wear resistance of the cemented carbides produced using the resulting high-quality WC-powder.
Present state-of-the-art industrial furnaces operate at a maximum temperature of 2200°C. CARBIDE2500 is the newest development from the company CREMER that solves the challenges posed by the extremely high process temperature, allowing for carburization at 2500°C at an industrial scale, with lower costs. In Europe alone, more than 4000 enterprises are involved with this technology. These companies will strongly benefit from the increased availability of high-quality cemented carbide material, made possible through the use of the new CARBIDE2500 technology.
Conclusions of the action: During the CARBIDE2500 project the technological goal of achieving a maximum process temperature of 2500°C for the high-temperature carburization was successfully achieved. During the demonstration tests carried out with small-scale CARBIDE2500 furnace constructed and tested during the project, the conventional raw powders (W + C) were used to produce WC at process temperatures of 1600 °C, 2200 °C and 2500 °C. The produced powders were analysed regarding their particle size, chemical composition and microstructure. The results of the microstructural analysis and powder morphology clearly show the growth of the tungsten carbide crystals towards higher carburization temperature resulting in the shift from polycrystalline to monocrystalline WC-particles. The analyses results of the high-temperature carburized WC produced with the CARBIDE2500 furnace during the demonstration tests therefore confirmed the influence of a higher process temperature on the characteristics of the WC-powder.
The core goal of this business project was to further develop and commercialize the new unique CARBIDE2500 pusher furnace technology. In particular, the goals of this project included marketing and demonstration activities to increase the awareness of the CARBIDE2500 technology and thereby more efficiently overcome barriers to the continued market entry. The awareness of the CARBIDE2500 technology was communicated successfully not only to powder produces, but also to hard metal product developers during conferences, through articles and adverts in journals and with the help of the CREMER international representatives.
Aside from the project management activities, the following main tasks were carried out during the first project year and successfully completed in the second project year: further development of furnace elements, upscaling, demonstration and customized testing, and commercialization and dissemination.
Overview of the results:
In the course of the project, the technological objectives defined at the start of the project, for example, a further revision and improvement of the heating system, an improvement of the overall efficiency and enhancement of the maintenance possibilities, were successfully achieved. The construction, testing and implementation of technical improvements of a small-scale CARBIDE2500 pusher type furnace was successfully completed. This furnace was then successfully used to show the potential of the CARBIDE2500 furnace technology and the WC produced at a process temperature of 2500°C. The plan for the marketing demonstration activities was adapted in order to successfully show the possibilities of the new CARBIDE2500 technology to prospective customers, whilst at the same time taking into account the sensitivity of clients concerning know-how and confidentiality. The results were communicated successfully to clients with the help of the website, publications in journals and conference proceedings as well as during tailor-made meetings with key clients and during talks at networking events and conferences.
Present state-of-the-art industrial furnaces operate at a maximum temperature of 2200°C. The new CARBIDE2500 technology enables the high-temperature carburization of tungsten (W) to tungsten carbide (WC) with a process temperature of up to 2500°C in the high-temperature zone on an industrial scale. The availability of this high-quality WC-powder enables, amongst other things, the production of cemented carbides with an increased wear resistance and hardness. This enhanced material is used to produce tools (e.g. for milling, grinding, drilling) and wear parts which due to the resulting increased tool life and related minimum downtimes of mechanical machining are expected to benefit the growth of companies in a broad range of industrial fields. In addition, the availability of the CARBIDE2500 technology and through it the availability of high temperature carburized WC-powder with its unique characteristics is expected to help develop new more hardy hard-metal products.
CARBIDE2500 3D View
CARBIDE2500 Front View