Processing Technology

Reducing Costs

Localized electromagnetic (induction) heating of a steel pipe

Two materials of great promise, titanium and carbon fiber, are restricted in application due to high material cost. New titanium powder and near-net shape consolidation processes offer the potential to reduce manufacturing energy intensity and cost up to 50%, as well as increase yields from 12% to near 90%. New low-cost precursor development and conversion technologies hold the key for reducing the cost of carbon fiber. ORNL is the recognized leader in these advanced processing technologies, which will enable broader deployment of these critical lightweight materials.

Increasing Performance

Use of magnetic fields to complement or eliminate conventional heat treatments can produce enhanced properties in a variety of materials including steel, titanium, magnesium, and other material systems. ORNL's groundbreaking research in magnetic field processing is revealing a new domain of formerly unattainable material properties. ORNL's concerted investment in pulsed thermal processing, spanning most of a decade, is now paying large dividends as it enables manufacturing innovation in flexible electronics and next-generation solar photovoltaic devices.

Low-cost lightweight robotic hand fabricated using additive manufacturing

Minimizing Lead Time

Additive manufacturing combines digital design, powder materials, and efficient energy sources to manufacture complex, near-net shape components. These technologies enable a paradigm shift in how we design and manufacture components of complex geometry. We are no longer constrained by limitations imposed by forming, casting, or machining processes. ORNL is employing its capabilities in ultrasonic, electron beam, and laser deposition to realize the full potential of this adaptive technology.