QuesTek has successfully delivered on a number of projects to improve a client’s material perfomance via composition and heat treat optimization. Reviewing material and processing specifications along with customer property data, QuesTek inputs this information into materials process-structure and structure-property models to inform chemistry and processing modifications for improved performance of one specific material property or reduced property variation. QuesTek’s powerful computational tools bring a physics-based understanding to manufacturing processes and provide critical insights and reduce the time and costs of ineffective trial and error methods.
Materials Process Optimization Success Stories
Below highlight a handful of ways QuesTek has used ICME to optimize existing materials and processes
Thermal Processing Optimization of Cast Aluminum Alloy
QuesTek utilized materials process-microstructure modeling tools to optimize the heat treatment cycle of cast aluminum components for an automotive manufacturer. As a result, QuesTek helped identify solutionizing temperature window that allowed for shorter soak times, which enabled the manufacturer pursue manufacturing route that increased output with low risk to properties and performance of the resulting components.
Compositional Modification of Forged Alloy Steel
A major forging manufacturer was experiencing large variability in fracture toughness properties in one of its alloy steel products. QuesTek utilized computational modeling tools to simulate resulting microstructure of the alloy steel products using manufacturer's process parameters (hot fire, austenitize, and temper temperatures) to identify any phases deleterious towards toughness. In the end, QuesTek identified ideal compositional ranges for the alloy steel to reduce variability in fracture toughness.
Heat Treatment of Additively Manufactured Nickel Superalloy
Additively manufactured components generally exhibit unique microstructural features compared to wrought counterpart (e.g. weld pools, elongated grains, etc), and thus the subsequent thermal processing must be adjusted to achieve comparable properties compared to wrought. For example, additively manufactured Inconel 718+ components require different solution heat treatment and aging parameters compared to wrought variant. QuesTek utilize it's suite of computational modeling tools to simulate heat treatment cycles and predict resulting microstructure and properties of AM-produced Inconel 718+.