|Title of Invention||
"METHOD FOR PRODUCING A HARD METAL PROJECTION"
|Abstract||The invention relates to a method for producing a hard metal projection made of hard material portions, binding metal portions and water-soluble pressing auxiliary agent portions by drying a wet slurry, which contains the constituents and pure water as the liquid phase. According to the invention, the hard material and binding metal portions are ground with water while forming a wet slurry and, after grinding, the pressing auxiliary agent portions are admixed in the form of an emulsion to the wet slurry. The emulsion is produced with the aid of an emulsifier while adding water.|
|Full Text||PROCESS FOR THE PRODUCTION OF HARD METAL GRADE POWDER
The invention relates to a process for the production of a hard metal refractory hard metal grade powder consisting of hard material, binding metal and non-water-soluble pressing aid components involving the drying of a slurry containing the components using pure water as a liquid phase.
Molded parts made of hard metal alloys are produced by pressing and sintering powdered base materials. This is accomplished by milling the hard material and binding metal components in a liquid medium to a form a finely dispersed mixture which takes the form of a slurry. When coarser-grained starting powders are used, this step also involves milling the starting powders, whereas the slurry is merely homogenized when fine-grained starting powders are used. The liquid protects the powder particles against fusion and prevents them from oxidizing during the milling process.
Suitable milling systems used almost exclusively today are agitator ball mills known as attritors, in which the material to be milled is set in motion together with hard metal balls by a multiple-blade agitator arm inside a cylindrical container. A pressing aid, e.g. paraffin, can be introduced to the slurry produced through the liquid-enhanced milling process. The addition of a pressing aid facilitates the compression of the hard metal grade powder during the pressing process and also enhances its green strength, which facilitates the handling of the pressed molded parts. The slurry is then dried to produce a finished hard metal grade powder that is ready for subsequent processing involving pressing and sintering.
A commonly used drying method is spray drying. In this process, slurry with a sprayable consistency is sprayed through a nozzle positioned inside the spray tower. A stream of hot gas dries the airborne spray droplets, which then precipitate as granulate in the form of small granules or beads in the lower conical segment of the spray tower, from where it can then be removed. The great advantage of producing a hard metal grade powder in granular form is that the flow characteristics of the hard metal grade powder are substantially improved, which facilitates the process of filling in compacting dies.
Spray towers in spray drying systems used in the hard metal industry are designed with a cylindrical upper segment and a conical, downward pointing lower segment and ordinarily operate in a countercurrent mode in accordance with the fountain principle, i.e. the sprayer lance is positioned in the center of the lower section of the spray tower and sprays the slurry under high pressure (12-24 bar) upward in the form of a fountain. The gas stream which dries the sprayed droplets flows into the drying chamber from above, against the direction of travel of the sprayed droplets, and escapes from the spray tower in the upper third portion of the conical, downward pointing segment below the spray lance. In this way, the droplets are first conveyed upward and then pulled downward by the force of gravity and the opposing stream of gas. In the course of the drying cycle, the droplets are transformed into a compact granulate with a low residual moisture content. As they fall to the floor of the spray tower, they automatically trickle down through the conical, downward pointing lower segment to the central discharge outlet.
Because the flight pattern of the sprayed droplets takes them first upward and then down, the distance traveled by the droplets during drying is equivalent to that of spray towers that operate with cocurrent downward streams of sprayed slurry and drying gas, but the process requires almost fifty per cent less tower height.
Spray towers in practical use which operate with countercurrents on the basis of the fountain principle have a cylindrical section measuring between 2 and 9 m in height with a height-diameter ratio of between 0.9 and 1.7, whereas spray towers which operate in a cocurrent mode with top-down gas and sludge flow are equipped with a cylindrical section measuring between 5 and 25 m in height with height-diameter ratio ranging from 1:1 to 5:1.
In the hard metal industry, such organic solvents as acetone, alcohol, hexane or heptane are still used almost exclusively in the milling and pressing of slurries today. These solvents are used in concentrated form or diluted only slightly with water. As the wax-based pressing aids, such as paraffin, frequently used in practical applications are generally readily soluble in these solvents, no problems arise in the milling and spraying of the hard metal grade powder.
The great disadvantage is that all of these solvents are highly flammable and volatile. Therefore, attritors and spray drying systems must be designed as explosion-resistant units, which requires considerable engineering design input and thus generates high costs. In addition, the materials must be dried in an inert gas atmosphere, ordinarily nitrogen, in the spray tower.
All of the solvents cited above are also environmental pollutants and are subject to substantial evaporation loss, despite the use of recycling measures, due to their high volatility.
In view of the significant disadvantages involved in the use of these organic solvents, attempts have been made to replace the organic solvents with water. The difficulty involved is that the most commonly used pressing aids - such as paraffin, for example - are not water-soluble, which means that special measures must be taken in producing the slurry in order to ensure satisfactory quality of the finished hard metal grade powder.
In the interest of clarity, it should also be noted that the general term "hard metal" also encompasses so-called cermets, a special group of hard metals which ordinarily contain hard materials with nitrogen.
US Patent 4,397,889 describes a process for the production of a hard metal grade powder in which a pressing aid that is not soluble in the liquid milling medium is used. As examples, the patent mentions paraffin as a pressing aid and water as a milling medium. To achieve a suitable hard metal grade powder with uniform distribution of the pressing aid despite the insolubility of the pressing aid in the milling medium, the US Patent proposes heating the hard material powder components first, with or without metal binder particles, to a temperature above the melting point of the pressing aid and then mixing them with the pressing aid. The powder mixture is then cooled as rapidly as possible in order to limit oxidation of the powder. In order to prevent excessive lump formation of the powder mixture during cooling, the mixture is kneaded during the cooling phase. After cooling, metal binder components are added, if not already contained in the powder mixture, and the powder mixture is milled in water. The slurry produced in this manner is then sprayed and dried, e.g. in a spray drying system. A disadvantage of this process is that the mixing units in which the hard metal powder and the pressing aid are mixed are heavily soiled
by lumpy, adhesive deposits of the powder-pressing-aid mixture and must be cleaned to remove all residues at considerable effort and cost before each new hard metal powder production run.
Therefore, the objective of the present invention is to develop a process for the production of a hard metal grade powder in which the disadvantages cited above according to the state of the art are avoided.
This objective is achieved in the preferred embodiment of the invention relating to the production of a hard metal grade powder in that the hard material and metal binder components are first milled in water, forming a slurry, and in that the pressing aid components are added to the slurry after milling in the form of an emulsion produced with the aid of an emulgator with the addition of water.
This procedure provides a simple means of achieving uniform distribution of the pressing aid in the hard metal grade powder. The emulsion can be produced without difficulty in a standard commercially available emulsification system equipped with adouble-walied vat with an agitator and a high-dispersion unit. After the pressing aid and the emulgator are melted, the desired quantity of water is"aaoed. When the temperatures of the two incompatible phases (pressing aid and water) are equivalent, and not before, the pressing aid phase is dispersed in the wafer with the aid ot a very high-speed (e.g. about 6,000 rpm) high-dispersion unit. As a rule, standard commercially available emulgators such as those used in the food processing industry may be used. The emulgator must be matched to the specific composition of the pressing aid that is to be emulsified. In selecting an emulgator, it is important to ensure that it contains no substances that would negatively affect subsequent steps in the hard metal production process, such as alkaline, alkaline-earth or sulphur compounds which may form crack-causing phases after sintering. In addition, it should be ensured that the emulgator contains no emulsion-stabilizer additives, e.g. agents which raise the pH level, as these additives may not evaporate completely during wax separation and could cause problems during subsequent sintering of the hard metal powder. Even without such stabilizing additives, the emulsion remains stable at room temperature for at least 5 days, allowing sufficient time for trouble-free production of the hard metal powder.
Particularly advantageous is the use of an emulgator suitable for the production of an emulsion with a mean droplet diameter of less than 1.5 µm.
Paraffin is commonly used as a pressing aid in the production of hard metal powders.
When paraffin is used, a mixture of fatty alcohol polyglycol ether and monodiglycerides has proven effective as an emulgator in emulsion production.
Particularly advantageous in the production of hard metal grade powder in accordance with the invention is the milling of the powder in an attritor with a slurry viscosity ranging between 2,500 and 8,000 mPas (measured in an RC 20 rheometer manufactured by Europhysics at a shear rate of 5.2 [1/s]) and a minimum four-to-eight-fold volume exchange per hour.
In this way, it is possible to achieve such short milling times even in the production of slurry containing hard material and binding metal components with particle sizes significantly below 1 µm that excessive particle oxidation is avoided.
Particularly interesting is the application of the process embodying the invention for the production of a hard metal grade powder to dry the slurry in a spray drying system to produce a hard metal granulate. In the preferred embodiment of the invention, a spray tower comprising a cylindrical section and a conical section is used in which the gas stream which dries the slurry enters the drying chamber at a temperature of between 130° and 195° C and exits the system at a temperature within the range of 85° -117° C, whereby the spray tower is designed and operated in such a way that the ratio of the quantity of water added via the slurry (in liters per hour) to tower volume (in m3) is between 0.5 and 1.8 and in that a maximum of 0.17 kg of slurry is atomized per m3 of incoming drying gas, whereby the slurry has a solid particle concentration within a range of 65 - 85 % by weight.
It is accepted as given that available energy generated by the volume and temperature of the incoming gas stream must be sufficient to vaporize the added quantity of water without difficulty.
The essential characteristic of this special spray drying process is that the quantity of water added via the slurry must be must smaller in proportion to tower volume than is ordinarily the case in spray towers and that the air quantity must be adjusted to the sprayed slurry so as to ensure that at least 1 m3 of air is available per 0.17 kg of slurry. In this way, the process achieves under currently prevailing conditions both non-destructive drying and a maximum residual moisture concentration of 0.3 % by weight in proportion to the finished granules.
Oxidation of even extremely fine-grained starting powders is largely avoided under the process conditions described above.
It goes without saying that in this process, as is generally the case in the production of hard metal granulates, the carbon balance must be adjusted on the basis of the chemical analysis of the starting powder used and oxygen intake during milling and spray drying, if necessary by adding carbon prior to milling, so as to ensure that a finished sintered hard metal can be produced with the hard metal granulate without an eta phase and without free carbon.
As a rule, the mean particle size of the granulate produced lies between 90 and 250 urn and can be adjusted by changing the size of the spray nozzle opening, the viscosity of the sprayed slurry and/or the spraying pressure. Smaller nozzle openings, lower viscosities and higher spraying pressures lower the mean particle size. The quantity of slurry introduced through the spray nozzle is regulated by adjusting the spraying pressure or the size of the swirl chamber and/or the spray nozzle opening.
Although the special spray drying process can be used in both cocurrent and countercurrent spray drying systems, it has proven most effective in countercurrent spray drying systems that operate according to the fountain principle, which favors a more compact construction of the spray drying system.
It has also proven advantageous to construct the upper cylindrical section of the spray tower with a height of approximately 6 m and a diameter of between 4 and 5 m. A conical angle of about 45° - 50° in the lower conical section has also proven favorable.
A particular advantage of the drying process embodying the invention is that it permits the use of air as a drying gas, which makes the process extremely cost-effective.
If spray drying is carried out using a countercurrent spray drying system based on the fountain principle, it is advantageous to adjust the temperature of the inflowing drying air at the upper end of the cylindrical section and the temperature of the drying air at the point at which it leaves the conical lower section of the spray tower within the specified ranges in such a way as to set a temperature between 70° and 120° C at the geometric midpoint (S) of the spray tower. Under these conditions, oxidation of the hard metal granulate is reduced to a minimum.
The invention is described in further detail on the basis of a drawing and a production example in the following sections.
Fig. 1 illustrates the basic principle of a spray tower which offers a particularly advantageous solution for the production of hard metal granulate from a slurry produced in accordance with the invention.
The spray tower (1) consists of a cylindrical section (2) and an attached lower, conical, downward pointing section (3). The spray tower (1) operates in a countercurrent mode in accordance with the fountain principle, i.e. the stream of gas which dries the granulate is introduced at the upper end (11) of the cylindrical section and forced downward, while the atomized slurry is sprayed upward like a fountain against the direction of gas flow (6) through a spray lance (4) with a nozzle opening (5) from the lower end of the cylindrical section.
Thus the sprayed liquid droplets (7) initially travel upward before reversing their course in response to the opposing gas current and the force of gravity and falling downward. Before coming to rest on the floor of the spray tower (1) in the conical, downward pointing section (3), the liquid droplets (7) must be transformed into dry granulate.
The granulate is guided through the conical, downward pointing section (3) of the spray tower to the discharge outlet (8). The gas stream (6) enters the cylindrical section (2) at a temperature between 130° and 195° C and escapes from the spray tower through the gas outlet pipe (9) below the spray lance (4) in
the upper third portion of the conical section (3) at a temperature between 85° and 117° C. Preferably, the gas entry and exit temperatures are adjusted in such a way as to achieve a temperature between 70° and 120° C at the geometric midpoint (S) of the spray tower. It is essential that the ratio of the quantity of water added via the slurry (in liters per hour) to tower volume (in m3) is between 0.5:1 and 1.8:1 and in that a maximum of 0.17 kg of slurry is atomized per m3 of incoming drying gas, whereby the slurry should have a solid particle concentration within the range of 65 - 85 % by weight. It must also be ensured, of course, that available energy generated by the quantity and temperature of the incoming gas stream must be sufficient to vaporize the added quantity of water without difficulty.
It is advantageous to design the conical section (3) of the spray tower as a double-wall construction to accommodate circulation of a coolant, e.g. water. This will ensure that the granulate is cooled in this section of the spray tower to a temperature not exceeding 75° C.
After leaving the spray tower (1) through the discharge outlet (8), the granulate enters a cooling channel (10), where it is cooled to room temperature.
The invention is described in the following section with reference to a production example.
In order to produce a waxed hard metal granulate with a mean particle size of 125 µm consisting, apart from a wax (paraffin) content of 2 %, of 6 % cobalt by weight, 0.4 % vanadium carbide by weight and the remainder tungsten carbide, 36 kg of powdered cobalt with a mean particle size of about 0.8 urn FSSS and an oxygen content of 0.56 % by weight, 2.4 kg of powdered vanadium carbide with a mean particle size of about 1.2 µm FSSS and an oxygen content of 0.25 % by weight and 561.6 kg of tungsten carbide powder with a BET surface area of 1.78 m2/g, which corresponds to a mean particle size of about 0.6 urn, and an oxygen content of 0.28 % by weight were milled with 148 liters of water in an attritor for 5 hours. The materials were milled with 2000 kg of hard metal balls measuring 9 mm in diameter at an attritor speed of 78 rpm. Pump circulation capacity was 1000 liters of slurry per hour. The temperature of the
slurry was kept constant at about 40° C during milling. The finished milled slurry was cooled to 30.6° C and mixed to a homogeneous consistency with 24 kg of a paraffin emulsion (48.8 % water, by weight; 48.8 % paraffin, by weight; the remainder an emulgator). Water was then added to achieve a solid particle concentration of 75 % by weight and a viscosity of 3000 mPas. The emulsion was produced in a standard commercially available emulsifying unit manufactured by IKA, Deutschland. In the process, 2 kg of a standard emulgator consisting primarily of a mixture of fatty alcohol polyglycol ether and monodiglyceride was added to 40 kg of paraffin and melted down at 85° C. (The exact composition of the emulgator must be empirically matched to suit the composition of the paraffin used.) Following melting, 40 kg of water were added and heated to the same temperature. Then the high-dispersion emulsification unit was turned on for 60 minutes to produce the emulsion. Afterwards, the emulsion was cooled at a controlled rate of 2° C per minute to room temperature with the aid of an agitator. A test of droplet-size distribution conducted in a laser granulometer showed a mean diameter (dso) of 1.16 urn.
Fig. 2 shows a KRYO-SEM exposure of the finished emulsion in a 7,500-power enlargement.
For granulation of the slurry produced in this way, a spray tower (1) with a cylindrical section (2) measuring 6 m in height and 4 m in diameter and a conical, downward pointing section (3) with a conical angle of 50° was used. Tower volume was 93 m3. The spray tower was designed for countercurrent operation on the basis of the fountain principle. Air was used to dry the slurry and was introduced into the spray tower at a rate of 4000 m3/h.
The slurry was sprayed into the spray tower through a spray lance (4) with a single-component nozzle (5) with an outlet opening measuring 1.12 mm in diameter at a pressure of 15 bar, which resulted in a slurry concentration of 0.08 kg slurry per m3 of drying air. The air exit temperature was set at a constant value of 88° C, which was achieved under the prevailing conditions by introducing drying air at a temperature of 145° C. At an air inflow rate of 4,000 m3 per hour, the atomization of 0.08 kg of slurry per m3 of drying air resulted in a spray rate of 320 kg of slurry per hour. Since the solid particle
concentration of the slurry was set at 75 % by weight, the spray output of 320 kg per hour equates to an hourly input of 80 liters of water.
Thus ratio of water input per hour to tower volume was
801/h = 0.86 1
93 m3 m3.h
The oxygen concentration in the granulate produced was 0.51 % by weight.
Fig. 3 shows an image (50-x enlargement) of a hard metal granulate with a mean particle size of 125 µm produced in accordance with the above example.
1. A process for the production of a refractory hard metal grade powder
consisting of hard material, metal binder and non-water soluble pressing aid components with the following production steps:
milling the hard material and metal binder components under the
conventional conditions with the water as liquid phase to form slurry
process is further characterized by
forming of an emulsion of the pressing aid components with the aid of
an emulgator and with the addition of water
mixing the emulsion with the slurry
drying of the slurry to obtain hard metal grade powder.
2. A process for the production of a hard metal grade powder as claimed in claim
1, the emulsion is produced with a mean droplet diameter of less than 1.5 µm
3. A process for the production of a hard metal grade powder as claimed in claim
1, the emulsion is produced with paraffin as pressing aid
4. A process for production of a hard metal grade powder as claimed in claim 1, the emulsion is produced with an emulgator consisting of a mixture of fatty alcohol polyglycol ether and monodiglycerides.
5. A process for the production of a hard metal grade powder as claimed in claim 1, that milling is preferably carried out in an attritor and that the slurry has
viscosity ranging from 2,500 TO 8,000 mPas with at least a four-to-eight fold volume exchange per hour.
6. A process for the production of a hard metal grade powder as claimed in claim
1, the slurry is dried in a spray drying system to form a hard metal granulate.
|Indian Patent Application Number||IN/PCT/2002/01162/DEL|
|PG Journal Number||15/2011|
|Date of Filing||27-Nov-2002|
|Name of Patentee||CERATIZI AUSTRIA GESELLSCHAFT M.B.H.|
|Applicant Address||A-6600 REUTTE/ TIROI, AUSTRIA.|
|PCT International Classification Number||C22C 1/05|
|PCT International Application Number||PCT/AT02/00075|
|PCT International Filing date||2002-03-08|