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Metal & Alloy Services

The MPC specializes in the preparation, purification, and fabrication of high-purity rare earth metals, refractory metals, alkaline earth metals, and alloys in single and polycrystalline forms.

Arc Casting. The interior of an arc casting furnace is shown. Arc casting has been employed for many years at ISU and Ames Laboratory, for preparing alloys and inter-metallic compounds for materials research. The molten metal in the center is zirconium, #40 on the periodic table. It has a melting point of 3,371°F (1,855°C). It is held on a copper hearth, copper melts at 1,984°F (1,085°C)! Why doesn't the Zr melt through the Cu? Answer: copper has a very high thermal conductivity. The Cu mold is water cooled from below which keeps the Cu from melting.

Utilizing a core staff consisting of three research scientists and three technicians, this section prepares unique materials with a variety of techniques. Facilities exist for the preparation and purification of metals and alloys including:

  • Distillation and electrotransport purification
  • Non-consumable and consumable arc casting (view video)
  • Several configurations of induction and resistance furnaces with controlled atmosphere capabilities including chill casting.
  • Special alloy ingots preparations from several grams to 25 kg can be prepared under controlled conditions to maintain purity and compositional control. Fabrication equipment includes:
    • 100-ton 12" rolling mill (rod and flat rolling)
    • 6" rolling mill
    • 5 rotary die swaging machines (1" - 0.014")
    • 12.5-ton 10' and 1.2-ton 8' hydraulic wire drawing benches


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