Ljubljana, Thursday, 6 June 2019 – At today’s closing public presentation of the research-development programme Materials and technologies for new applications (MARTINA), the company SIJ Metal Ravne from the SIJ Group along with the project partners presented the advanced tool steel for a new generation of innovative tools.
At the closing public presentation of the research-development programme MARTINA, 16 partners from the industry, knowledge institutions and development centres, one of which is SIJ Metal Ravne, presented the results of six research-development projects.
SIJ Metal Ravne and partners (Institute of Metals and Technology from Ljubljana, the Jesenice development centre RCJ, Department of Materials and Metallurgy from the Faculty of Natural Sciences and Engineering in Ljubljana, TALUM Kidričevo, UNIOR Zreče, TECOS and TPV Novo mesto) developed an advanced tool steel for a new generation of innovative tools SITHERM S140R with improved thermal conductivity.
Steel for tools with a longer lifespan
“By developing the new steel SITHERM S140R we answered the demands of the tool market for greater productivity and longer tool life. The developed concept for alloying the new steel SITHERM S140R brings different combinations of this steel’s properties, which achieve significantly better thermal conductivity than standard hot work tool steels at the same hardness and comparable toughness and through-hardenability. These properties provide new steel users with better heat removal in tools, shorter production times and higher productivity. We are confident that with this new steel we will solidify our position on the tool steel market,” Andrej Gradišnik, Managing Director of SIJ Metal Ravne, explained about the main advantages of the new steel for end users.
Development of advanced tool steels is extremely important for SIJ Metal Ravne, whose market share places it as the third leading tool steel producer in the European Union, as tool steels represent the largest, 69-percent share of their sales.
First industrial production will start in the summer
The new steel was in development for several years. The partners first developed the new tool steel in a laboratory and in the next project phase produced a prototype of a tool for high-pressure casting of aluminium alloys which they also tested. The prototype of a tool for drop forging is also being tested. The project partners are satisfied with the testing results.
Hot work tool steels are exposed to temperature fluctuations which cause mechanical stresses and lead to tool wear. These strains are conditioned by the speed of heating or cooling of the tool’s active face, which is limited by the thermal conductivity of the steel. To achieve high thermal conductivity of the steel, we have to consider the influence of alloying elements on thermal conductivity and at the same time ensure maximal purity of steel. SITHERM S140R has higher purity and thus better fatigue resistance and higher thermal conductivity, so it meets all criteria for hot work tool steel.
After the completion of the project, which is scheduled for July this year, SIJ Metal Ravne will transfer the results to regular industrial practice and produce the first industrial batch. In May this year, SIJ Metal Ravne has already filed an international patent application at the Slovenian Intellectual Property Office for the new steel SITHERM S140R.
The SIJ Group is the largest Slovenian vertically integrated metallurgical group. Its products hold leading positions in European and global niche steel markets. The SIJ Group is one of the ten largest business groups in Slovenia, the five largest Slovenian exporters and the most important employers in Slovenia.
The main objective of the MARTINA programme is to strengthen the position and role of the Slovenian industry in the field of materials, in particular special steels and aluminium, and the transition from standard to development suppliers in international value chains and networks to raise competitiveness in the global market. In the context of the strategy of smart specialization S4, the MARTINA programme focuses on the area "Development of materials as final products", since it is based on the areas of steel, aluminium and multicomponent materials, while also connecting the use of materials in the industry. The main objective is the automotive industry, which is of strategic importance for the Slovenian economy both in terms of volume and added value, as well as potential and level of exports.
The programme includes and connects five of the key identified industries or branches: materials, tools, plastics and the chemical and automotive industries. The programme connects 16 partners (seven industrial enterprises, six knowledge institutions and three development centres), which invest in joint development of new materials, i.e. final products, tools and design technologies. The aim of the programme is to strengthen the cooperation between producers of finished materials that achieve high added value and participate in international value chains.
SIJ – Slovenian Steel Group, d.d.
mag. Sara Wagner, Head of Corporate Communications
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