A combined arc-melting and tilt-casting furnace for the manufacture of high-purity bulk metallic glass materials

Soinila, E.; Pihlajamäki, T.; Bossuyt, S.; Hänninen, H.
July 2011
Review of Scientific Instruments;Jul2011, Vol. 82 Issue 7, p073901
Academic Journal
An arc-melting furnace which includes a tilt-casting facility was designed and built, for the purpose of producing bulk metallic glass specimens. Tilt-casting was chosen because reportedly, in combination with high-purity processing, it produces the best fatigue endurance in Zr-based bulk metallic glasses. Incorporating the alloying and casting facilities in a single piece of equipment reduces the amount of laboratory space and capital investment needed. Eliminating the sample transfer step from the production process also saves time and reduces sample contamination. This is important because the glass forming ability in many alloy systems, such as Zr-based glass-forming alloys, deteriorates rapidly with increasing oxygen content of the specimen. The challenge was to create a versatile instrument, in which high purity conditions can be maintained throughout the process, even when melting alloys with high affinity for oxygen. Therefore, the design provides a high-vacuum chamber to be filled with a low-oxygen inert atmosphere, and takes special care to keep the system hermetically sealed throughout the process. In particular, movements of the arc-melting electrode and sample manipulator arm are accommodated by deformable metal bellows, rather than sliding O-ring seals, and the whole furnace is tilted for tilt-casting. This performance of the furnace is demonstrated by alloying and casting Zr55Cu30Al10Ni5 directly into rods up to o\ 10 mm which are verified to be amorphous by x-ray diffraction and differential scanning calorimetry, and to exhibit locally ductile fracture at liquid nitrogen temperature.


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