MP35N® Alloy: Properties & Applications

MP35N® alloy is a unique multiphase system that combines the highly desired chemical and mechanical properties of its constituent elements: Nickel (Ni), cobalt (Co), chromium (Cr), and molybdenum (Mo). The result is a high-performance alloyed system that is much more than the sum of its parts. Providing an enviable mix of ductility and strength alongside exceptional corrosion-resistant characteristics, MP35N® is routinely employed in some of the toughest application areas in modern engineering.

Over the years, H.C. Starck Solutions has built a reputation for delivering world-class engineered products for key market segments. This requires a unique understanding of the demands placed upon critical materials in specific working environments, to provide the right materials for the job. Among these is MP35N® alloy system, with an extremely attractive manifold of physicochemical properties for an array of applications.

This article will explore the properties and applications of MP35N® alloy in greater depth.

What is MP35N® Alloy?

MP35N® is a complex, high-performance, multiphase alloy system that is generated via vacuum induction melting and vacuum arc re-melting (VIM-VAR) where elements have nominal concentrations of: 35% nickel; 35% cobalt; 20% chromium; and 10% molybdenum.  Such high concentrations of alloy additions could now be considered as a high entropy alloy system. After melting, the alloy can then be work-hardened and aged to improve its tensile strength without greatly compromising its ductility.

Despite its exceptional mechanical characteristics, MP35N® alloy is fabricated and is available from H.C. Starck Solutions in rolled plate, sheet, and foil configurations as well as machined part.

MP35N® Properties: Ductile, Strong & Corrosion-Resistant

Depending on the production process, MP35N® alloy can be manufactured for variable yet specific tensile and yield strengths across an exceptionally high range (1790 – 2070 MPa). We find that minimum strength(860 MPa) is most commonly achieved in the hot rolled/annealed condition while maximum values are attained through cold working and aging. A similar linearity is observed in the alloy’s hardness, increasing from approximately Rockwell C7 to Rockwell C50.

The corrosion-resistant properties of MP35N® alloy system are principally determined by its alloying composition. All four alloying elements impart enhanced corrosion-resistant properties, preventing oxidation, pitting, sulfidation, and other complex forms of chemical attack. Combining these superior characteristics with the aforementioned mechanical performance also provides outstanding resistance to dynamic modes of failure, such as hydrogen embrittlement and stress corrosion cracking (SCC) while maintaining mechanical properties at cryogenic temperatures.

Applications for MP35N® Alloys

This excellent combination of chemical and mechanical characteristics makes MP35N® alloys ideal for a wide range of application areas. At H.C. Starck Solutions, we routinely provide flat-rolled MP35N® products for aerospace and aviation; chemical processing; cryogenic research; marine engineering; oil and gas; prosthetic manufacturing and orthodontics; spring applications in severe enviroments, and many more.

If you need a high-performance alloy system for your application and are considering MP35N® alloy products, why not contact a member of the H.C. Starck sales team today? We will happily answer any questions you may have and help find a solution that fits your specifications.

*MP35N® is a registered trademark of SPS Technologies, LLC.

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H.C. Starck Solutions Exhibits at FPD China

FPD China is one of the world’s largest conferences and expositions for experts in the consumer display and touch screen manufacturing chain. Bringing together a host of industry experts from around the world, FPD China aims to provide a platform for developers, manufacturers, and researchers to learn about the latest and greatest innovations in consumer electronics.

A welcome reprieve from the numerous tradeshow cancellations that have occurred during 2020 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, FPD China will be going ahead this year with robust epidemic prevention procedures in place. H.C. Starck Solutions is happy to announce that we will be attending and exhibiting at FPD China this year, sharing our knowledge in a safe and healthy exhibition environment.

FPD China: Safe & Healthy Tradeshow Experience

Co-organized by the world-renowned SEMI and CECC groups, FPD China has a thirteen-year history of strategic cooperation with domestic and international partners in the display and touch screen space. Following strict control and prevention guidelines, in cooperation with the State Council and in accordance with the Shanghai exhibition industry guide to COVID-19, FPD China can happily proceed this year, welcoming the regular crowds with a few precautionary changes.

With temperature checks, mandatory masks, and social distancing measures, FPD China is set to reinvigorate the tradeshow circuit of 2020 for professionals in the display and touch screen sector. At H.C. Starck Solutions, we could not be more excited to meet like-minded professionals in a safe and reliable environment over the weekend of June 27th – 29th. If you are thinking of attending FPD China and would like to speak with a member of the H.C. Starck Solutions team, contact us today to book a time slot. Or, simply come down to booth #E1567 in Hall E1 and we will make some time for you.

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History of the Euclid Plant: Tungsten Alloy and Molybdenum Flat Product Expertise

This year, H.C. Starck Solutions is celebrating the centennial of our global company by highlighting the efforts of individual plants and facilities across the world. We have already explored the importance of our Newton plant in Massachusetts and the Hermsdorf facility in Germany, sharing some of their core competencies and highlights throughout their unique history.

This month, we are looking into the history of our Euclid facility in Ohio, which is renowned for its tungsten and space-age refractory metals. In fact, our Euclid plant was built during one of the most exciting technological eras mankind has ever experienced: the space race.

A Brief History of the Euclid Plant

After the USSR launched Sputnik in 1957 and sent a man into orbit just four years later, the US President, John F. Kennedy, announced an ambitious initiative: the USA was going to put a man on the moon. This extraordinary objective motivated the creation of a flat-rolled refractory metal plant on Tungsten Road in Euclid, Ohio.  For over fifty-five years, the Euclid plant has been engineering and delivering superior refractory metals and tungsten alloys for a wide range of critical objectives.

The Euclid plant has changed ownership several times over the years. In 1961 the plant was established by the General Electric Company (GE), who capitalized on their rich process knowledge in molybdenum and tungsten in lamp wire for developing a robust production line in supplying flat-rolled plate, sheet, and foils of refractory metals.   Projected growth of tungsten did not occur and resulted in GE’s divestiture, as molybdenum applications for vacuum furnaces surpassed tungsten sheet demand.

American Metal Climax Company, otherwise known as AMAX with a plant in Coldwater Michigan, purchased this facility in 1972 and consolidated all the flat rolled product into the Euclid Plant.  This yielded tangible dividends to AMAX. In the ‘80s, sales of molybdenum sheets grew with new applications for thermal management in electronics and new materials such as  copper and nickel clad molybdenum.

After years of success, AMAX merged with a company known as Cyprus, and in 1995 Euclid, Latrobe, West Horndon and Coldwater sites were purchased by Key Equity Capital and renamed CSM Industries. Shortly thereafter the firms Moly-Press and Kulite were purchased and expanded industrial capability, capacity and experience, including tungsten heavy alloys.

H.C. Starck purchased CSM Industries with all its assets in 2000. This was during our concerted push to support growing advanced electronics applications including refractory metal based sputtering targets for flat panel display manufacturing.

In 2007, the Latrobe and Kulite facilities were consolidated in Euclid.  This expanded the Euclid capabilities to include the manufacturing of tungsten heavy alloys and complex machining.

Euclid, Ohio Today Under H.C. Starck Solutions

In 2020, the Euclid site continues to produce flat-rolled plate, sheet, and foil from molybdenum and tungsten and alloys. AS9100 Aerospace certification allows the Euclid site to be a valued supplier of tungsten heavy alloy parts for critical aerospace and defense applications.  With additional fabrication and machining operations, we can provide significant added-value to our customers through novel products and solutions. If you would like to learn more about our site, or any other facility covered in the 100 Years of Refractory Metals Expertise celebration, simply contact a member of the H.C. Starck Solutions team today.

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High-Temperature Alloys Used in Furnace Design

Thermal processing is a critical step in the preparation of an enormous range of finished and intermediate goods, including automobile parts, aerospace, electronics, oil and gas, even pharmaceuticals. Few final products make it to market without having undergone some level of heat treatment during the development and manufacturing chain. General-purpose and specialized furnaces are now so ubiquitous that thermal processes arguably form the bedrock of industrial-scale manufacturing worldwide.

High-temperature alloys are essential to the plethora of furnace designs and heat treatment techniques that manufacturers now enjoy. Whether they are employed directly in furnace assemblies – from hot zones to the outer shell – or used as supplementary parts like boats, trays and carriers, high-temperature alloys provide superior mechanical properties at severe operating temperatures.

Which High Temp Alloys are Best Suited for Furnaces?

Refractories like molybdenum (Mo), niobium (Nb), tantalum (Ta), and tungsten (W) offer superb temperature performance, retaining their characteristic mechanical qualities at temperatures exceeding 1000°C. These may be used in their pure formats in select instances, for example, electron beam melted (EBM) tantalum rods are often used for heating elements in hot zones with operating temperatures exceeding 1482°C. However, tantalum heating elements must be accompanied by tantalum-based shielding to prevent chemical contamination. Such a configuration cannot be used in a hydrogen atmosphere either.

This dynamic is typical of the furnace design process. Engineers must carefully balance thermodynamic stability with high-temperature performance and an array of additional performance parameters specific to various user objectives. Continuing with the example of heating elements; tungsten heater coils are ideal for extremely high thermal processes with the greatest melting point of the refractory metals group, but it should not be used in air atmospheres.

There is no simple answer to the question, which high-temperature alloys are best suited for furnace design, as the requirements of modern thermal processing are vast. The only correct response is to carefully diagnose the right alloy for the job on a bespoke basis.

High-Temperature Alloys from H.C. Starck Solutions

At H.C. Starck Solutions, we are committed to design and manufacturing excellence and enduring research and development (R&D) into product innovation. Our high-temperature alloys are comprised of high purity refractories with carefully selected additives to yield the greatest performance for specific user objectives. We design and supply furnace components and accessories to users in a broad market cross-section, leveraging our unprecedented refractory metals expertise in the fabrication of boats, furnace assemblies and racks, heating elements and shields, hot zones and more.

Though pure refractories are often employed in hot zones, insulation, and shielding, we offer a wide range of high-temperature alloys based on molybdenum, which can be utilized throughout various furnace types. These include:

  • Titanium-zirconium-molybdenum (TZM): With elevated strength and outstanding creep-resistant properties at high temperatures, TZM alloys can be used for various items of kiln furniture, including brackets and heating elements.
  • Molybdenum-tungsten (MoW): High-density MoW components are ideal for molten metal applications, specifically non-ferrous melts such as zinc.
  • Molybdenum-hafnium-carbide (MHC): With exceptional all-round thermodynamic properties, MHC is typically reserved for extrusion dies.
  • Molybdenum-lanthanum (MoLa): An oxide-dispersion strengthened high-temperature refractory alloy exploited for its outstanding dimensional stability and high strength characteristics for various fabrications in furnace design.

Engineers always have to be very careful when designing specific  furnace elements from refractory and non-refractory metals. The difference between the two is that refractories are not inhibited by the poor thermodynamic and chemical properties of non-refractories, hence their general superiority. Yet it is always important to compare the most important characteristics of each to determine the right metals for individual jobs.

If you have specific user parameters that you are working towards and would like to speak with an H.C. Starck Solutions representative about specific heat treatment solutions, simply contact us today. We are happy to field questions about our high-temperature alloys and customer-first services. 

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Decades of Innovative Tantalum Sputtering Processes

At H.C. Starck Solutions, we are currently celebrating 100 years since our company first charted a course to become the world’s leading supplier of refractory metals like tantalum (Ta). Consistently expanding through investment in new global premises and leading technologies, we are now confidently one of the foremost metallurgical experts on the planet.

We have been successful in embedding ourselves in true growth markets with critical intermediate products throughout the years. As a result, we now supply core technologies for growing, multi-billion dollar industries that were barely in their infancy when H.C. Starck was first founded. Tantalum sputtering targets for the booming semiconductor industry, for instance, are a key part of our product catalog.

A Brief History of our Semiconductor Expertise

Valued in excess of $400 billion, the global semiconductor market is the primary driving force for technological growth. It directly fuels billions of dollars in the electronics market, forming the backbone of most consumer devices, numerous sensing arrays, various energy generation technologies, and much more.

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Silicon chip manufacturing is the core technology of the semiconductor market where integrated circuits – or ICs – are engineered with feature sizes on the nanoscale. Optimising the conduction of electrons between nanometre-scale features and components is key. Copper is often used in logic chips and DRAMs for this very purpose, however, copper atoms are active and will diffuse into materials under electrical fields.

Unlike copper (Cu), tantalum atoms do not diffuse into materials under applied electrical fields. This process, known as electromigration, could introduce flaws into ICs which would contribute to product failure. High-purity tantalum and tantalum nitrides can be grown on top of copper layers to prevent electromigration of copper atoms and preserve the long-term reliability of semiconductor devices. This is typically carried out via physical vapor deposition (PVD), where vapor-phase material is selectively deposited on a silicon substrate under vacuum conditions.

We entered into the sputtering target trade in 1999, shortly after copper was first introduced into the manufacturing process. Our expertise in materials research and development – focussing on tantalum and other refractory metals – gave us a unique opportunity to impact semiconductor manufacturing in a tangible way. In the early 2000s, we became one of the first qualified suppliers of tantalum blanks for sputtering targets.

Our Tantalum Sputtering Targets Today

Our stature in the semiconductor industry has only grown since those early successes. Through numerous product development cycles and experimentation, we have generated sputter targets with various purities, grain size, and crystallographic texture to meet changing customer demands. With state of the art high-vacuum electron-beam melting (HV-EBM) and thermomechanical processing, we can now precisely control tantalum impurity levels to the sub-parts-per million (ppm) range and grain sizes on the order of micrometers (μm).

Working with worldwide strategic partners, our tantalum sputtering targets are used in all major semiconductor processing chains, providing best-in-class performance and lowest cost of ownership. Each year, we produce and ship thousands of tantalum blanks, capturing about half of the total worldwide demands.

Check back on our 100 Years of Refractory Metals Expertise page to learn more about our centennial celebration or contact us for more information about our tantalum sputtering expertise.

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Importance of Safety Culture in Refractory Metals Production

Safety culture is an important part of production, underlying the actual day-to-day conditions of a workplace. Drawing conclusions based on statistics or theory might be a mistake that can lead to major accidents and injury to personnel. At H.C. Starck Solutions, we are committed to embedding good safety culture at every level of our refractory metals production and supply chain, to safeguard our business from top-to-bottom.

Safety Culture: Critical to Our Best-in-Class Refractory Metals

Relaxed attitudes, perceptions, and values in production environments can affect how processes are actually carried out. These are factors that can be difficult to monitor and regulate, which means many workplace cultures involve safety standards based on how workflows are intended to run rather than how they are actually carried out. In challenging working environments, such as those involved in the production of refractory metal powders and components, such oversights can be costly.

At H.C. Starck Solutions, we consider our safety culture a key part of our overall organizational blueprint. It has proven important to our success in refractory metals spaces, enabling us to build from positions of strength to offer the best-in-class refractory metals worldwide.

Ultimately, our goal is to achieve a zero-injury climate, which requires much more than just managing lagging indicators like incident rates and lost time. It demands leading indicators. Employee observations, job safety assessments (JSA), near-hits, JSBOs, and more must be taken into account as part of the drive towards safety excellence.

Excellence in Refractory Metals Safety: Putting People First

How we communicate and orient our organization directly reflects our performance as a company, especially when it comes to getting on the front foot with our safety culture. As a change agent, H.C. Starck Solutions adopts a behavioral-based safety approach by collaborating through active engagement and sharing ideas. Continually engaging with our workforce allows us to measure employee perceptions towards safety in refractory metals production at the organizational, management, and program levels.

At H.C. Starck Solutions, we always strive to find new ways of engaging the workforce. Research shows that overall perception towards safety signage is low, and few signs, if any, are noticed. In April of 2020, we installed two 150-Watt LED projectors with a 90MM optical lens that project bright red and yellow “DANGER, DO NOT ENTER” images on the floor on each side of one of our articulating boom machines. These warning signs effectively draw awareness, and it is exciting to see the positive responses we are getting from employees in that area.

We are continuing to build on that strong sense of community by educating our refractory metals workforce and empowering them to get every job done the right way. By merging employee perceptions with an organizational perspective, we hope to foster a strong safety culture built on mutual trust. If you would like more information about how we are championing safety excellence in the refractory metals industry, simply contact a member of the H.C. Starck Solutions team directly.

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High-Temperature Alloys from H.C. Starck Solutions

High-temperature alloys are metallic materials that retain superb mechanical qualities in extremely hot environments. There is no single metric that defines how well an alloy will perform in high-temperature applications which may include many thermal cycles with sharp thermal gradients.

Mechanical Performance

Resistance to deformation at high temperatures is the first critical characteristic to consider. The mechanical strength of these alloys is defined by tensile yield (YTS), ultimate tensile (UTS), creep strength, and Young’s modulus. These are temperature-dependent properties that may not exhibit a linear relationship between temperature and strength and may also microstructurally degrade due to high-temperature exposure. Furthermore, very slow deformations at high temperature – known as creep – begin occurring at just under one half of the absolute melting point, shortening the life of components.

Corrosion Resistance

High-temperature alloys must also exhibit good resistance to application-specific conditions. Corrosion resistance includes low susceptibility to oxidation, hydrogen embrittlement, and other chemical reactions in the environment.  

Properties describing adhesion and diffusion control the protective performance of the alloy against deterioration of strength in specific atmospheres. Most high-temperature alloys are built from several alloying elements at concentrations that provide the optimal combination of thermodynamic and chemical corrosion resistance.  In refractory alloys, for example, zirconium, yttrium, and aluminium are stabilizers of the protective surface layers that can form.

High-Temperature Alloys: Refractory Metals

Using refractory metals as both base materials and additives for high-temperature alloys yields products with practically unmatched thermodynamic properties in extremely hot environments. Molybdenum, tungsten, and their alloys function very well in vacuum, hydrogen, and inert atmospheres, but will embrittle when returned to room temperature because of recrystallization.  

High-temperature applications with severe thermal cycling require refractories with greater ductility. Molybdenum has been alloyed with various elements for this purpose. Additionally, lanthanum has been used to maintain ductility through the largest gamut of processing temperatures, but it requires thermomechanical working to achieve the full effects of ductility enhancement. Molybdenum is also alloyed with titanium and zirconium (TZM) for increasing recrystallization temperature, higher strength, and higher hardness over pure molybdenum and lanthanum-based alloys.

At H.C. Starck Solutions, we generate finely-tuned molybdenum alloys for service as heating elements or furnace fixtures that maintain shape and functionality after many processing cycles. These are suitable for tough applications such as nuclear fuel and magnetic material processing applications, as well as vacuum processes.

High-Temperature Alloys from H.C. Starck Solutions

H.C. Starck Solutions is one of the world-leading suppliers of high-temperature alloys and refractory metals for demanding applications. If you would like to learn more about the range of alloys that we provide for heat treatment, gas turbines, nuclear reactors, and more, simply contact a member of the team today.

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History of the Hermsdorf Facility: 60 Years of Refractory Metals Ingenuity

In 2020, H.C. Starck Solutions celebrates 100 years of refractory metals ingenuity across a diverse and robust global network of facilities. As part of our centennial celebration, we are spotlighting the plants that have helped us curate a reputation as the leading supplier of advanced refractory metals solutions worldwide. Among these is our innovative facility in Hermsdorf, Germany.

A Brief History of the Hermsdorf Facility

The Hermsdorf facility dates to 1961 when H.C. Starck was undergoing a substantial period of expansion and modernization. Originally known as Hermsdorf Powder Metallurgy, the facility made significant inroads into developing essential refractory metals and technical ceramic products based on novel manufacturing means. Some of the earliest successes included affordable slip rings and contact materials based on silver and tungsten-copper (WCu) alloys.

In 1963, the Hermsdorf facility constructed a proprietary electron beam furnace to enhance heavy metal production capabilities, and within two years was exploiting new refractory metal powder patents to produce parts based on molybdenum and tungsten, including high-performance tungsten sheet metal.

Electron beam melting (EBM) and powder metallurgy have remained core competencies of Hermsdorf throughout the decades. Constantly striving towards material advancement and product innovation, the Hermsdorf facility has been responsible for numerous developments and additions to our core product offering. By the end of the ‘60s, Hermsdorf was producing complex, high-technology as X-ray tube components and anodes based on molybdenum alloys.

Today, the Hermsdorf facility is our only plant melting molybdenum on an industrial scale, producing a wide range of Mo-based components for critical applications downstream. In order to meet our own sustainability goals, we have also developed a keen focus on recycling chips, scraps, and used components for maximum efficiency.

Our Hermsdorf Facility’s Successes

Our EBM manufactured molybdenum alloys find applications as cathode discs in medical imaging machines, as electrodes in glass melting apparatuses, and more. With high-precision CNC machining capabilities and unmatched material expertise, our Hermsdorf facility is uniquely capable of producing key refractory metals parts with tight tolerances for demanding end-user scenarios.

The Hermsdorf facility also has renowned isostatic pressing, rolling, soldering, electrical discharge machining (EDM), and optical measurement capabilities, providing a wide output range for manufactured components in a choice of downstream markets, including heavy metal tooling and aircraft components. We are continually proud of the achievements of our Hermsdorf team, one of the largest and most profitable refractory powder metallurgy plants in the region.

If you have any questions about our 100 Years of Refractory Metals Expertise celebration or have any questions for one of our sales representatives, simply contact a member of the H.C. Starck Solutions team today.

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Aerospace | Refractory Metals

Key Refractory Metals in Aerospace Markets

Contact Us Now Balance Weights

As aerospace engineers continue to reach outwards in terms of how far we can travel and how quickly we can reach destinations, the materials used in air and space markets continue to come under scrutiny. Critical aspects of safe and reliable flight to space or at hypersonic speeds are optimally answered by refractory metals.

All great periods of progress in aircraft design and manufacture have been underpinned by concurrent breakthroughs in materials science and engineering. Composites yielded the first functional heavier-than-air aircraft, while the production line provided the means to establish a lucrative new industry. This spirit of innovation is alive today, with major manufacturers shifting towards advanced composites and alloys in airframes, fuselages, engine environments, and electronic subsystems. Some of the frontrunning materials from a performance perspective include the refractory metals molybdenum (Mo), niobium (Nb), tungsten (W), and tantalum (Ta).

Read More: Refractory Metals in Aerospace & Defence

In this article, we will explore some of the critical challenges facing aerospace engineers today, as well as highlighting the roles that select refractory metal alloys can perform for next-generation air and spacecraft.

How Refractory Metals Resolve Aerospace Challenges

Despite some volatility, the aviation market has always been characterized by long-term growth fuelled by the increasingly interconnected global economy and the tourism sector. Many aerospace institutions around the world have envisaged this affecting space flight in the coming decades, leading to entirely new forms of orbital and sub-orbital travel. Yet tapping into these potentially valuable markets requires careful consideration of numerous competing KPIs, namely: efficiency, safety, performance, and cost.

Refractory metals are renowned for their outstanding heat-resistant capabilities, offering numerous benefits to end-users in the aerospace industry. At H.C. Starck Solutions, we have many years of experience developing refractory metal parts and alloys for customers in aerospace and defence markets.

Tungsten: Refractory Metal Balance Weights

In our recent post, we described tungsten as one of the go-to refractory metal for aerospace and defence applications, primarily due to its combined high-temperature resistance and density. Tungsten heavy alloy (WHA) offers the benefits of high  density, machinability and excellent mechanical properties that make it an excellent choice for specific aerospace applications. We offer a wide range of WHA vibration dampeners and balance weights for fixed and rotary wing aircraft, helping engineers and OEMs develop tomorrow’s high-performance aerospace designs.

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Niobium Refractory Metals: Propulsion Components

A transition metal with an optimal combination of low density and a high melting point, niobium can be used to form exceptionally strong alloys which are inextricably linked to recent, explosive growth in the aerospace market. These are widely used to generate parts such as gas turbines after burner flaps shields and rocket nozzles.

C-103 is a niobium-hafnium-titanium refractory metal alloy for air and space propulsion systems that retains its outstanding strength at peak temperatures of up to 1482°C (2700°F). This superb temperature-stability also extends to cryogenic conditions, enabling C-103 to withstand high-frequency vibrations typical in satellite applications.

Molybdenum Refractory Alloys: Forging Dies

While pure molybdenum offers exceptional chemical integrity in demanding conditions, few refractory metal alloys match titanium-zirconium-molybdenum (TZM) when it comes to long-lasting performance in demanding isothermal forging dies. H.C. Starck Solutions’ world-leading isothermal forging products offer an unparalleled combination of mechanical properties to manufacturers of aircraft turbine engine disc and fan blade forging.

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Refractory Metals from H.C. Starck Solutions

H.C. Starck Solutions is founded on 100 years of excellence in the field of refractory metals engineering for demanding areas of application. If you would like to know more about any of the products we have discussed in this article, simply contact a member of the team today.

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Coldwater Plant’s Historic Extrusion Press

During our 100 years of refractory metals celebration, we are putting the spotlight on our various sites and key application areas that have helped H.C. Starck Solutions forge a trusted, global reputation. A key technology that makes H.C. Starck Solutions a global market leader in the processing of refractory and special metals is the extensive extrusion capability at our plant in Coldwater, Michigan. This article will explore the history of Coldwater’s storied extrusion press, its superb capabilities today, and its applications both as a key internal processing step as well as a service offered for tolling to our global customers. 

History of Coldwater’s Extrusion Press

Loewy-Hydropress Inc. was the original manufacturer of the extrusion press that currently produces extruded refractory parts at Coldwater. Built-in 1942, this 5500 ton Loewy press was initially engineered for aluminum extrusion and was leveraged by the U.S. Department of Defense as part of the war effort. At that time, the extrusion press was located in Canton, Ohio where it was used to produce extruded parts for aircraft throughout WW2. After the war, Canton Drop Forge – then owners of the press – expanded into extrusion for the oil and gas sector.

The Loewy extrusion press was not relocated to the Coldwater facility until 1973. Significant refurbishment was required to enable the extrusion of refractory metals like molybdenum (Mo); a key driver behind the machine’s relocation. Previously, molybdenum feedstocks had to be shipped to Ohio for extrusion which could require turnaround times of up to 10 weeks. The new capabilities of the Coldwater extrusion press more than halved this manufacturing bottleneck. Today, we can produce extruded molybdenum parts with less than two week’s lead-time.

About Our Extrusion Press

The Loewy extrusion press at Coldwater exerts a force of 11 million pounds on an extrusion billet, using water pressures of 4250 pounds-per-square-inch (psi) on a five-foot diameter ram. Incoming billet sizes of 6 – 18″ in diameter and up to 40″ long are heated and then extruded into rods, tubes, shapes, or coils with diameters ranging from 0.510 – 11.75″.

Various extrusion processes can be conducted using a choice of pre-heating furnaces (combustion, electric, induction, etc.) with operating temperatures of 204 – 1482°C (400 – 2700°F). The extrusions can then be quenched via a range of techniques, including water quenching in a 4000-gallon batch tank, slowly cooled in a 160ft3 insulated bin, in-process water quenched and coiled, or simply air-cooled on cooling racks.

We have modernized the Coldwater extrusion press with the latest high speed computerized controls and precision-controlled hydraulics to ensure it is among the most versatile extrusion instruments worldwide. Current extrusion processing speeds range from 0.01 – 12″/second. This unparalleled level of control has helped numerous customers domestically and internationally, with over 10,000 completed pushes in 2019 alone and over USD$6 million in external sales. These pushes have comprised a broad range of materials and products, including:

  • Molybdenum bars, rectangles, and tubes as feedstock for further processing
  • Wire for superconductor magnets used in medical equipment and particle accelerators
  • Deep oil wells (>20,000ft) and sour gas well tubing
  • Structural shapes for military and commercial aircrafts
  • Components for nuclear and defense applications
  • Superalloy structural materials
  • Special energy-efficient water-cooled furnace rails
  • Spot welding electrodes for automotive welding robots
  • Prostheses for artificial knee and hip joints
  • Saltwater and hydraulic system tubing for nuclear submarines
  • Back-extrusion and billet compacting

In the coming months, we will explore the history of the Coldwater plant in greater depth. Check back on our 100 Years of Refractory Metals Expertise page to read more about the history of H.C. Starck Solutions. Or, contact a member of the team today if you have any questions about our extrusion capabilities.

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