The EU has invested in the EFFIPRO (Energy EFFIcient PROcess of Engineering Materials) project, which highlights a new manufacturing process using powder metallurgy.

The main aim of this project is to develop a significantly shorter PM process using a new concept of hybrid electrical current assisted sintering and hard materials with improved properties, thus resulting in a more energy efficient and cost effective process.

In addition, higher performance metallic composites (based on hard metals) and engineering metallic materials will be processed. Tools for machining operations will be produced and two types of parts machined: one for the aerospace sector and the other for the automotive sector.

The objectives of the project are to implement a new PM process, to introduce new materials to the market and help industry overcome the technical difficulties in their manufacturing processes, to reduce manufacturing costs, to substitute the use of critical elements and hazardous materials for more safe and environmentally friendly ones, to reduce energy consumption by 20% during the process, to increase the competitiveness of the European hardmetals industry, to complete a life-cycle analysis (LCA), to reduce by 25% the number of rejected parts, to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases by 40%, to reduce waste materials and increase the use of recycled materials by 10%, and to substitute the use of hazardous elements (Co) by safe and environmentally friendly ones.

Shorter processing

The use of this new technology could shorten the PM processing time and produce materials with enhanced properties (hardness, toughness and lifetime). In addition, significant reductions in energy consumption will be achieved during the sintering process. The cost of this new technology is expected to be in the same range or lower than the current industrial processes.

This Project is part funded by the European Commission in the 7th Framework Programme). The consortium includes companies EPMA, AMES, MIRTEC, UNIMERCO-KYOCERA, AIRBUS, FRAUNHOFER-IFAM, Universidad de SEVILLA and TECNALIA, the leader and coordinator of the project.

This story is reprinted from material from EFFIPRO, with editorial changes made by Materials Today. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Elsevier.