The Thermomechanical Processes Group focuses its research on projects with companies from the steel sector. These projects are aimed at broadening expertise and promoting technical advances and process improvements that may help to obtain more state-of-the-art, sustainable products.
- New processing routes and improvements in processing sequences for flat and long products, tubes, forged pieces, etc.
- Semi-finished products, thin slab casting, direct rolling
- Improvements to heat and thermomechanical treatments and new solutions based on them.
- Composition optimization
- Zero-defect production
- Designed-to-order alloys with improvements to specific properties
- New ranges of high-strength steels
- Advanced microalloyed steels
- Stainless steels and superalloys
The Group's most fundamental research activity is training young researchers. The results of the Group's basic research projects provide springboards for solving specific problems that arise in more technologically advanced projects.
The basic research carried out by the Group over the past six years is defined by the following projects:
- Thermomechanical sequencing simulation equipment: designed and built in-house to simulate a wide range of high temperature deformation conditions. The sequences include pre-heating, single- or multi-pass deformation with either continuous or decreasing interpass temperatures, variable deformation speeds, adjustable interpass times, and changes in deformation direction. The different deformation methods are tension, torsion, axisymmetric and plane strain compression, and bending. Following the thermomechanical sequence, different cooling methods can be applied: direct quenching, controlled cooling, etc.
- Heat treatments and annealing:
- Vacuum ovens and other types of oven environments for any type of heat treatment
- In-house designed and built equipment for simulating continuous annealing cycles
- Standard mechanical testing machines: traction, compression, bending, toughness, fatigue, etc.
- Microscopy laboratory equipped with optical and scanning and transmission electron microscopes that run microanalysis techniques such as EDS, EBSD, EELS, 3D micro-machining (FIB) and X-ray diffraction for measuring textures, quantifying retained austenite, phase identification, etc.
- Dilatometer for the study of phase transformations, characterization of thermal expansion coefficients and simulation of thermomechanical sequences
- Machines for determining the physical properties of steel: elastic and shear modulus, electric and thermal conductivity; at room temperature and elevated temperatures
- Commercial and in-house models:
- Finite element analysis applied to hot forming: rolling (flat and long products), extrusion, etc.
- Thermodynamic measurements
- In-house evolution and microstructural control models
- In-house microstructure–mechanical behavior relationship models