What is Field Enhanced / Flash Sintering Technology?
FES is the application of a direct electric field via customized electrodes to a material body during the sintering process.
Field Enhanced Sintering, also known as Flash Sintering, was discovered in 2010 by our collaborative partners at the University of Colorado at Boulder, specifically by Marco Cologna. Flash sintering occurs when an electric field is applied to a ceramic at a specific temperature. At this point, a combination of field and temperature, a sudden rise of the electrical conductivity takes place in the material. This so called 'flash event' leads to the rapid sintering of the material - hence the name, Flash Sintering.
Since its initial discovery the technology as a research area has gathered much momentum. The specifics of the effect are being researched alongside many academic researchers and collaborators. Under the application of electric fields the conventional sintering process changes to increase the kinetics of sintering processes. This accelerated process leads to a reduction of both furnace temperature and time, and as consequence, an overall decrease of energy consumption (and therefore cost).
A change in the properties of the fabricated material can also be achieved by Field Enhanced Sintering, thanks to the manipulation of the sintering mechanism and control over the sintering rate. An example of the properties that can be engineered includes grain size; this affects the density and microstructure of the material. FES creates an opportunity to develop new products, improve performance and increase profitability.
We have built an experienced team of experts around Field Enhanced Sintering, merging the multidisciplinary skills required to take the technology from laboratory to commercial scale. Similarly, the Field Enhanced Sintering facility designed and installed at our UK facility is flexible in its ability to process ceramic pieces of varying sizes and shapes. In-situ analysis of the process, combined with iterative feedback from the electrical systems (utilizing proprietary software unavailable in University institutions), provides much better control and feedback on the effect of the FES technology. The team and equipment are commercially focused, directly addressing your needs for the fastest route to solutions. The equipment designed and installed at Lucideon for Field Enhanced Sintering study is completely flexible within its ability to study materials of varying compositions and in different applications.
Field Enhanced Sintering has three specially constructed kilns for the Research and Development of FES in its journey to manufacturing. The unique split furnace is designed to allow the installation of customized electrode designs. Coupled to this we have a tube furnace, capable of refining the field parameters for materials that need to be sintered in a controlled atmosphere. Our 25 meter roller kiln is unique in its ability for process control and is designed to allow the re-engineering of the hot zones with Field Enhanced Technology. In situ analysis of the process is available on all kilns.