From Indirect to Direct Heating of Materials Using Lasers – A New Beginning for Superplastic Forming
Superplastic forming (SPF) has traditionally relied on hot platen presses and furnaces as the principal heat sources to raise materials to superplastic forming temperatures. However, recent research, in the UK and the US, has concluded that such indirect heating methods are slow, expensive, and can only provide a single temperature to the work piece, which can be undesirable. In contrast, LISTechnology Limited (laser induced superplasticity technology) has been created to provide an alternative technology that can directly heat materials to be superplastically formed fast, at low cost and with the potential to control thickness distribution during forming through differential heating. The first ‘laser cell’ for components formed from single sheet titanium is currently being built to demonstrate how direct heating of SPF materials with a laser will significantly increase material heat up rates, compared with current methods, whilst the low thermal mass of the cell will allow rapid cooling to below oxidation temperatures, thus significantly reducing manufacturing cycle times. Furthermore, the cell will only utilise thermally stable, inert ceramic dies within which the titanium will be formed, these being contained within a sealed argon environment, thereby offering the possibility of alpha case free, rapid forming at high temperatures.
Daniel G. Sanders
A. Jocelyn et al., "From Indirect to Direct Heating of Materials Using Lasers – A New Beginning for Superplastic Forming", Key Engineering Materials, Vol. 433, pp. 63-68, 2010