Our Work

2016-2017 Projects:

The effect of silicon modification and grain refinement on feeding aluminum castings.

Sponsor: Eck Industries, Inc.

Develop a thermal analysis method to determine effectiveness of grain refiner and modifier on feeding into thick and thin walled castings.

Venting channel optimization.

Sponsor: Mercury Marine - Mercury Castings

Develop a process design methodology and qualify a simulation model that evaluates the performance of various venting channel designs against different metal parameters, and correlate the model with casting trials.

Hearth nodule reduction in pusher slab reheat furnaces.

Sponsor: ArcelorMittal USA Inc.

Analyze and test hypotheses related to composition and pressure as factors for nodule growth.

Press hardening steel.

Sponsor: ArcelorMittal USA Inc.

Study the influence of processing PHS on the final microstructure and properties to maximize safety performance.

Analysis of ferritic nitrocarburized high strength low steel structural components.


Evaluate commercially available HSLA steels of various microalloy chemistries and thermal histories in order to characterize mechanical properties.

Rapid prototype expendable pattern creation.

Sponsor: Mercury Marine - Mercury Castings

Re-evaluate foam pattern generation and determine the suitability of current rapid prototyping techniques and materials for creating the expendable pattern.

Metallurgical evaluation of steel bars and correlation to bar machinability.

Sponsor: Steel Market Development Institute

Evaluate the metallurgical factors that may influence steel machinability, such as microstructural phases, carbide precipitates, hardness, and chemistry. Determine if there is a correlation between one or more of these factors with machinability data gathered through single insert carbide coated turning tests.

2014-2015 Projects:

AME: Mechanical Properties of 3D Printed Metal

Sponsor: AIST

Design and conduct experiments to analyze optical imagery and mechanical properties and determine optimal grade of metal for 3D printing.
·      Benchmarking data on the printer settings for optimal print resolution
·      Image analysis of the wire grade and bead geometry of the multilayer print
·      Microscopy to determine porosity
·      Generation of the G-code to control the printer
·      Evaluate various grades of metal to determine which will allow optimal printing parameters through tension and compression testing
Print resolution was improved through optimization of metal grade and printer settings.
Next steps:
Change 3D printing distances for a larger analysis. Also, test under different temperatures.


AME: Material Selection for Coating Bearings

Sponsor: AK Steel

·      Increase life of a thrust bearing
Define current requirements and optimize future thrust bearings through engineering fundamentals.
·      Benchmark current thrust bearings
·      Conduct design of experiments to determine the pertinent parameters
·      Evaluation of material properties, coatings and surface treatments combinations.
o   EDS
·      Quantify budget
Next steps:
Conduct tests and analyze data to determine wear life and SEM analysis for material property evaluation


AME: Alloying to Increase Elongation while Maintaining Mechanical Properties

Sponsor: Eck

Objective: Alloy development to increase elongation, using engineering fundamentals and analysis
·      Benchmark current alloy
·      Research microalloying to increase elongation
·      Heat treating
·      Mechanical testing and analysis
·      Evaluation of material properties
·      SEM/EDS analysis
Next steps:
Further experimentation on a combination of alloying and heat treatments would be necessary to make this project more commercially viable. 


AME: Alloying for 3D Printing using GMAW 

Sponsor: America Makes

Develop a printing process and alloy pair that will obtain quality welds, mechanical properties and print resolution.
·      Define the mechanical property requirements to further explore alloy opportunities
·      Benchmarking data for printer settings
·      Mechanical property testing and Archimedes density testing
·      RadTherm software for heat flow and heat treatment analysis.
·      Power velocity and weld bead analysis
·      Microscopy to determine materials characterization and porosity
·      Evaluate a variety of alloys to determine which will allow optimal printing parameters through tension and compression testing
Next steps:
Explore single to multi layer prints. 


AME: Reheat Furnace

Sponsor: ArcelorMittal

Reduce nodularity formation in a reheat-furnace
·      Literature search to determine the contributing factors of nodule formation
·      Analyze composition and geometry of nodules
·      Use of XRD and SEM
·      Experimentation while varying temperature
·      Hardness testing
·      Microscopy
Next steps:
Explore other contributing factors of nodule growth with different surface coatings


AME: Iron Recovery

Sponsor: Gerdau

Objective: Improve efficiency of scrap recovery
·      Analyze composition of scrap varieties
·      Study the effects of carbon additions, melt times and heel size
·      Use of induction furnace for in-house pours
·      Alloy replication via the arc melter
·      Measure energy consumption during pouring and melting process
Next steps:
Select two types of scrap to limit the scope of the project to conduct more in-depth experimentation. A larger sample size of a smaller variety will allow for more justifiable claims. 


2013-2014 Projects:

AME: Blast Furnace Tap Bit Design: Phase III

AM_LogoSponsor: ArcelorMittal

Project Description: Blast furnace tapping at ArcelorMittal's steel plant in East Chicago, IN requires the use of specially designed single-use tapping bits. These bits experience significant wear due to intense heat and pressure as they bore through tap holes filled with refractory clay. As a consequence of this operation bits can break within the tap hole before the hot metal is reached. Currently several drill bit designs are used to tap the furnace and the bit performance is based on operator perception. Last year, an AME team constructed a test rig employing a pneumatic rock drill to assist in gathering baseline bit performance data. This year, the test method will be developed and a range of test conditions will be evaluated. Based on these findings and materials knowledge, the team will design and fabricate a bit for tapping ArcelorMittal’s blast furnaces.


AME1: Ductility Trough Characterization: Phase IV

AM_LogoSponsor: ArcelorMittal

Project Description: Primary steel production utilizes continuous casting, in which molted iron from the blast furnace is cast into thick slabs. These cast slabs are rolled down to wrought steel sheet and bar products. Advanced steels present new challenges to this established process.  Recently, ArcelorMittal's Indiana Harbor facility has had a demand for several low carbon steels, but during continuous casting they develop corner cracks leading to unusable product or expensive crack elimination procedures. ArcelorMittal will supply the team with a variety of continuously cast steel alloys from which tensile specimens will be machined to quantify the mechanical behavior of the steel over the range of temperatures experienced (700-1000°C) during bending and unbending after continuous casting. Differences in composition and microstructure will be utilized to determine the root cause of corner cracking.


AME: Ductile Iron Alloy Development


Sponsor: Meritor

Project Description: Meritor has a desire to develop a ductile iron alloy with mechanical properties of Grade 1 austempered ductile iron (ADI), but which does not require heat treatment. Meritor has an initial alloy chemistry that is close in performance and can serve as the baseline for the team’s development efforts. For Meritor, this project aims to decrease total cost, where the potential increased material cost is more than offset by elimination of the heat treatment process. For AME students, this project represents a valuable opportunity to apply knowledge and course work in material science to a practical industry problem.


AME4: Induction Mixing of Nanoparticle Aluminum MMC's ECK_WORLD_LOGO-RIGHT.jpg (336×336)

Sponsor: Eck Industries

Project Description: Eck Industries in Manitowoc, WI delivers aluminum castings to customers in the military, hybrid vehicles, commercial trucking, aerospace, medical, industrial and energy markets.  It is a privately-owned family business with over 64 years of experience in the aluminum foundry industry. The addition of nano-scale ceramic particles to aluminum, magnesium, and zinc alloys can enhanced inoculation, grain refinement, and hot tearing resistance, as well as improve yield and tensile strength while maintaining or enhancing ductility.  A major challenge with metal matrix nano-composites MMNC’s is the ability to effectively mix and distribute the nano-scale ceramic particles homogeneously into commercial scale batches of molten aluminum and maintain a homogeneous distribution through casting and solidification. There is a need for production of nano-particle master alloys containing well-dispersed nano-particle that will be subsequently diluted, ultrasonically dispersed, and cast. This project will utilize induction  melting methods to disperse nanoparticles into molten aluminum.


AME5: Evaluation of Various Methods to Pre-Heat Forging Dies

Sponsor: Forging Industry Association (FIA)

Project Description: Forging dies are typically preheated prior to a production run.  There are several methods currently used to preheat forging dies including: open flame, gas fired ovens, electric resistance ovens, infrared and induction, but the control and uniformity is either lacking or not well documented. Induction heating of forging dies at the press or hammer can result in fast and uniform heating, but the process needs to be refined and verified for various die designs and application in an industrial setting. A key challenge is the low conductivity of the tool steel dies. Induction heating of forging dies is expected to provide economic benefits to forging companies by allowing faster and more uniform die heating. Improved control and uniformity of die heating is expected to improve die life (less over-heating) and provide a more consistent forging process leading to improved part quality and lower scrap rates.


AME7: Solution Strengthened Ferritic Ductile IronWaupaca-Foundry-Logo-web-267x300.png (267×300)

Sponsor: Waupaca Foundry

Project Description: Waupaca Foundry is “the largest producer of gray, ductile, austempered ductile, and compacted graphite iron in the world, melting more than 9,500 tons a day. Ductile iron commonly has a pearlitic matrix, which provides good strength but sacrifices ductility. One microconstituent that provides higher ductility is ferrite, but ferrite has much lower strength than pearlite. A strategy to increase ductility while maintaining strength is the solid solution strengthen the ferrite. Often silicon is added at levels of 2.7 to 3.7 % to provide the necessary solute strengthening. Waupaca would like to explore the composition space for this alloying strategy, not just for silicon, but for other elements as well.


AME: Improved Brake Design for Brake Truck Applications


Sponsor: Magline Inc.

Project Description: The current brake truck design has dual pistol grips connected to a y-cable to allow independent braking at each wheel. While the design provides excellent maneuverability, the pneumatic tires serve as the braking surface, leading to eventual tire replacement. Magline seeks a new brake design that does not result in tread wear. A new brake design enables Magline to offer more value to its customer base by eliminating the time and expense associated with tire wear/replacement.

2011-2012 AME Team
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