Ajax TOCCO is developing a new, more productive cold hearth design that will demonstrate improved throughput regardless of the dimensional characteristics of the product being manufactured. It will also be extremely flexible with regard to product size and dimension. This is VersaCast ™.
VersaCast ™ consists of a rather conventional central hearth and feeding arrangement which also includes the capability of directing the material to one of two (or even three) secondary hearths from the melting hearth or alternatively to two or more crucibles or molds in an efficient sequential fashion. Versacast ™ can be applied to plasma hearth, electron beam or vacuum induction melting processes.
This concept will find its greatest advantages in ingot production sizes less than or equal to 20 inches in diameter. It can also be useful in the casting of slabs or in conjunction with SNAPP melting in the manufacturing of cast products, depending on the requirements. The purpose of Versacast is to provide a product closer to the final dimensions required (near net shape) with less process steps and reduced yield losses. Therefore, the cost of providing a specific shape to the final customer is reduced.
As one crucible or set of crucibles is being filled, the crucibles in the opposite chamber are being removed and replaced with the appropriate crucibles for the next campaign. The chamber is then resealed and readied for the next pour. Concurrently, the crucibles on the opposite end of the furnace chamber are being filled. The melting and pouring process may never stop and therefore productivity on most shapes will remain high.
In order for the titanium industry to develop low cost products, low cost processing techniques must be developed and employed. (Historically poor process yields must give way to high yield alternatives and unnecessary, time consuming, low throughput processes must give way to high productivity concepts.) The focus of VersaCast ™ is on high yield, high productivity, near net shape titanium melting. It is a technology to be considered for the times.