Mobile Research Stand with a Gold Medal

Mobile research stand for testing the properties of liquid metals, alloys, glasses, slags, and other substances in a wide range of melting points. Arch. Photo by Professor Jerzy Sobczak

An invention by Professor Jerzy Sobczak from the Faculty of Foundry Engineering has been awarded a gold medal during the ITM Industry Europe trade fair.

A mobile stand for testing the properties of liquid metals, alloys, glasses, slags, and other substances in a wide range of melting points (in conditions ranging from high vacuum to atmospheric pressure of selected shielding gases in the range from room temperature to 2100°C with the use of reducing or inert atmospheres, or vacuum) is a unique solution on a global scale.

The invention finds application in materials engineering and facilitates the determination of the liquid-state properties of an examined specimen and its reaction with solids. This allows researchers to specify technological guidelines for the merging and synthesis of new materials with unique operating characteristics, which might be useful in the aviation and automotive industries, machine construction, and mining and processing industries.

The chief advantage of the device is its measurement capabilities. The research stand facilitates the testing of the reactions of metals, alloys, glasses, slags, and other substances in their liquid states with refractory bases in both isothermal and non-isothermal conditions and rapidly changing temperatures by quick insertion of the base into the heating area of the machine.

Presentation of the award. Photo by Fotobueno

Another important feature of the device is the possibility to level the object during the experiment, even when the metal under examination has already been melted (is in its liquid state), due to the built-in 5-spindle manipulator and cameras which facilitate the monitoring of the base lying on the research stand from two angles perpendicular to one another. The application of two conjoined high vacuum chambers facilitates the physical separation of the testing area and the sample storing area (bases) intended for subsequent experiments, which ensures the minimisation of reactions of atoms that sublimate or vaporise from the examined samples onto the bases intended for subsequent experiments.

Another advantage of the solution is the possibility to use the chamber for storing samples as a loading chamber, using a sluice valve that separates the chambers and an appropriate pumping system. The chamber intended for high-temperature experiments is equipped with a water jacket that prevents the chamber from overheating during high-temperature experiments which require the power of several kW. Both chambers are placed on a mobile support frame and connected by separable wiring and elastic piping. The stand has been adjusted to control the set, has vacuum pumps, and a water cooling system.

The mobile stand requires only a three-phase power connection, which makes it easy to transport it between laboratories. To work properly, the device must be levelled accordingly on the machine legs of the vacuum chamber support frame, the plugs connected with electrical cables, and the elastic vacuum pipes and water pipes with quick couplers. These solutions facilitate easy transport of the research stand to other laboratories and simple integration with other research equipment, for instance, devices intended for the characterisation of the examined material, which cancel the necessity to open the chamber, which would mean an inevitable contact of the already examined sample with the external atmosphere.

The research stand was developed in collaboration with MeasLine sp. z o.o. and the Aleksander Krupkowski Institute of Metallurgy and Materials Science of the Polish Academy of Sciences.

The device is used to accomplish scientific and research work and is fully prepared to be transferred to the industry.