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Spark Plasma Sintering

Spark Plasma Sintering (SPS) utilizes uniaxial loading and pulsed DC current to generate high temperatures and pressures in order to consolidate metal and ceramic powders into near-net shape components. Our facility has a 10 ton and a 25 ton SPS system that can generate temperatures up to 2200° C.  Graphite tooling is typically used to create dies, which are then used to contain the powders and form the components.  Temperatures can be measured through use of thermocouples or a pyrometer.  Processing is typically conducted in an argon, vacuum, or helium atmosphere.

A wide variety of high temperature materials can be consolidated such as silicon nitride, silicon carbide, MgAlB­14 (BAM), and tungsten.  Other examples of materials that can be consolidated include carbides, nitrides, titanium and magnesium alloys.  The SPS process offers much faster processing and consolidation times than conventional sintering and hot pressing techniques.  Hold times are typically on the order of 5-10 minutes.  The fast processing time reduces grain growth within samples and can potentially allow the retention of pre-existing nano-features within the specimen after processing.

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