Products and solutions Mar 24, 2003 1:00 AM
ThyssenKrupp VDM invests in new VIDP furnace at Unna plant - Superalloys for the aerospace industry
On April 22, 2002 the Executive Board of ThyssenKrupp Steel AG approved a plan to invest 13.5 million euros in a vacuum induction degassing and pouring (VIDP) furnace for the production of nickel-base alloys. Once the project is completed in summer 2003, ThyssenKrupp VDM will have the largest melting plant for special alloys in the world, with heat weights of 20 to 30 metric tons.
The new VIDP furnace will also be used by ThyssenKrupp VDM to produce nickel- and cobalt-base superalloys for the aerospace industry. The remelting facilities (ESR and VAR) needed for this were taken into operation at the company`s Unna plant over the course of the last two years.
The size and features of the innovative facility will permit cost-effective operation and high production levels, with tap-to-tap times of less than six hours the target. Large air-locks, minimized boiler volumes and high connected power ratings will help achieve it. The fact that the furnace is being integrated into the existing meltshop means that it will also be possible to charge liquid metal, which will further increase performance. In addition, the furnace will have all the features necessary to achieve optimum quality, such as electromagnetic stirring and an additional air-lock for sampling.
The contract to build the VIDP facility was awarded to ALD Vacuum Technologies AG in Hanau. Thanks to extensive preparatory work and the experience gained by the two companies in two completed projects, the furnace will start operation only a year after the contract was awarded.
Aside from the activities of PRP, aerospace superalloys are a relatively new area for ThyssenKrupp VDM and so to ensure its entry into the market is a success the production departments need to acquire process expertise, sales has to establish contacts with new customers and the particularly stringent quality management requirements of the aerospace sector have to be fulfilled. These are extremely ambitious goals which can only be met by all departments working closely together.
In planning the production routes and inspection procedures, the company was able to call on the experience of its American subsidiary PRP, Precision Rolled Products, Inc.
One particular focus of attention was the widening of the quality management system. While ISO 9001 is adequate for a large part of our present business, aerospace safety regulations call for numerous other measures, such as compliance with ENAS 9100.
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