Ion Surface Treatment Summary


Manufacturers and end-users of critical metal parts and components are under increasing pressure to improve operating performance and reduce cost. Ranging from tools and dies used in the forging and stamping industries, to precision parts used in the medical, aerospace, firearms, and automobile industries - competitive challenges are making managers more acutely aware of the need to improve material surface performance and component life-time. Because critical component failures due to wear, fatigue and corrosion directly impacts the time-to-failure of entire systems, single component failure often results in down time that is far more costly than the individual components themselves.

Alpha-Omega Power Technologies (AOPT) , through the high intensity ion beam process is enabling manufacturers to meet the growing performance requirements of a competitive marketplace - while at the same time increasing the value of the critical components they supply to their customers.

The pulsed ion beam , a high-energy pulsed ion beam treatment process is demonstrating a broad range of customer benefits including both improved performance and lifetime extension of parts. Early industry recognition of the process potential to impact the Tool & Die industry is shown in the March, 1997 issue of American Machinist , which selected the process as one of the "Five best bets for the machine tool industry...that will likely have significant relevance in shaping the future of machine tool technology."

The pulsed ion beam technology, is a thermal process, uses very high energy, rapidly pulsed ion beams to melt the surface of a material to a depth of 5-10 microns. The bulk of the material, acting as a heat sink then cools the thin melted surface layer in less than a microsecond, (see Figure 1).


Fig. 1. Pulsed Ion beam energy instantly melts a thin surface layer, which then cools at a rate of a billion degrees/sec.

The AOPT process modifies and improves existing material surfaces by near-instantaneous melting and cooling of the existing material, not by adding coatings or diffusing chemicals into the surface. This difference enables AOPT to provide benefits that cannot be matched by any other capability.

The short processing time, a few seconds, which is an integral part of the AOPT treatment, makes AOPT technology cost effective compared to other, much slower surface treatment techniques. In marked contrast to many other material surface treatments, AOPT is chemical-free, produces no waste stream, and uses negligible consumable materials.

The result of the fast melting and cooling changes the surface characteristics of steels like H13, 17-4PH, O1 and M2 making them harder, with a very small grain size, resulting in improved corrosion, wear and fatigue properties. While some tool and gear steels have reached a Rockwell hardness of more than HRC 70, other materials like 316 stainless steel and aluminum alloys typically show significant increases in corrosion and wear resistance. Other materials like ceramics and plastics have also shown potential for improvement by AOPT.

For additional information please download our PDF file: AOPT Ion Beam