New Tungsten Carbide Process for Challenging Applications
9 September 11
A new process that produces tungsten carbide components with complex internal forms for use in harsh environments has been announced by Total Carbide. The process called Intraform™ has been developed to produce tungsten carbide components with complex internal forms for use in harsh environments and performance critical applications, such as valves in high-pressure fluid applications.
The process has been under development over the last four years and is now at the stage, says Andy Hunt, “where we are working with customers on creating industrial solutions.” He explains that the process opens the possibility for tungsten carbide to offer improved performance over equivalent steel components in challenging applications. “ It allows the creation of complex internal wear critical forms as required in linear and rotary valves, which can last up to ten times longer than equivalent steel parts,” notes Andy Hunt.
Another benefit of the process is that the technology enables the company to create complete components in a single piece. One of the disadvantages of conventional tungsten carbide parts processing has been the fact that to create complex components, several parts had to be combined. Andy Hunt, sales director at Total Carbide commented: “The manufacture of a one piece tungsten carbide component with complex, high-performance internal chambers has been a challenge for the flow control industry for many years. The IntraformTM process allows us to create components with difficult internal geometries that have the durability and wear-resistance of tungsten carbide and the ability to process abrasive and corrosive fluids. The resultant improvement in performance and reliability will significantly reduce the impact and cost of downtime caused by part failure and maintenance.This capability will open up significant new possibilities, giving engineers unprecedented flexibility for the design of flow control components.”
Though the company is keeping the finer details of the new process under wraps, one of the main developments is to use a nickel based tungsten carbide material grade rather than cobalt. This reduces the effects of corrosion and offers advantages over steel wear components in such environments for example. The company has also made a significant investment in CNC equipment at the “pre-forming” stage to obtain near net shape of components prior to further processing. This has had the benefit of reducing the amount of costly finishing operations.
The process has been independently tested by leading global valve manufacturers to industry standards including a 25,000 cycle qualification test at 760 bar satisfying leakage testing according to API 6A / ISO 10423. Products have also been proof tested at 1140 bar as part of FAT (Factory Accreditation Testing) without showing signs of failure, and have successfully undergone a 90 day corrosion test. These trials have proven Intraform TM to be acceptable for harsh subsea environments. While the company is initially targeting the oil and gas industry, Andy Hunt believes that its potential lies in a raft of industrial areas.