ATOM-FI: Development of a metallic alloy atomizer for the intelligent factory
The general objective of the project is to study and realize a new type of powder metal atomization machine with some innovative features.
The machine is designed according to an innovative double chamber system. This system provides many advantages over the traditional gravity casting system: the melting chamber and the process chamber are completely independent and, at casting, it is possible to control the metal flow in the atomizer by applying a differential pressure during the dosing .
This leads to better flow control than simple casting by gravity and consequently provides a more homogeneous powder size. The objective of the prototype is to produce metal powder of <100 μm dimension with a minimum yield of 75%.
Compared to the traditional atomizer, in our project we introduce the concept of closed room, resulting in greater workplace safety and lower environmental impact, the operating costs are also reduced due to the smaller size than the conventional atomizer models, both due to the minimization of machining waste due to the stability of process parameters.
The system can operate either manually or in fully automatic mode thanks to the programmability of the work parameters, the PC-based monitoring system for the acquisition of variables and process parameters, a graphical intuitive editing interface, and RS232 connections and Ethernet to the corporate network. An automatic vacuum seal test for o-rings, gaskets and filters is in the process of being designed to facilitate maintenance operations.
The atomizer has been designed and built so that process variables can easily be controlled, controlled and monitored, as required by the implementation of an "intelligent factory". Real-time process variables such as temperature, pressure, inductor power, oxygen in the room, coolant flow rate, and many others are shown on a touch-screen monitor, but also via an API (Application Programming Interface) to interfacing with other devices in the production chain directly to the factory LAN.
Another goal is to reduce the size of the machine so that it can also be used in MPMI, estimated at around 80%. Reducing the size of the atomizer also results in a reduction in the purchase cost of about 20%.