Recently, MetalTek International’s Wisconsin Centrifugal Division had its heat-treating processes reaccredited by Nadcap, continuing a record of certification that the foundry has maintained since 1995. It’s an impressive record, and also proof of the long-standing importance of heat-treating capability for foundries seeking to gain and hold a position in supply chains for critical engineered products.

“The planning is critical, but it takes the entire team to maintain it every day” according to Tom Garcia, quality manager at MetalTek Wisconsin Centrifugal. “Processes are more robust now than when we were first certified and our people continue to find ways to make them even better.”

The fact is that heat-treating technology gets more demanding every year, and some recent developments illustrate current trend lines for industrial thermal processes.

Heat treating techniques are central to improving commercial applications for cast products, and to developing new ones. As such, heat-treating represents a base of activity in industrial research programs.

The Metal Processing Institute at Worcester Polytechnic Institute is one of four academic centers for the American Lightweight and Modern Materials Manufacturing Innovation Institute (LM3I), a $148-million federal initiative announced in February and aiming to improve the U.S manufacturing capabilities and competitiveness from the ground level.

MPI is among North America’s largest industry-university consortiums, with over 80 industry members. It will contribute expertise in lightweight metalcasting and heat treatment from two of its industry-funded research centers: the Advanced Casting Research Center (ACRC) and the Center for Heat Treating Excellence (CHTE).

Also at WPI, a two-year, $2.1-million award (part of a larger award by the U.S. Army) will support the development of new metallurgical methods and new lightweight alloys for defense systems and vehicles. Technologies and processes developed as part of the research will have applications in the aircraft, automotive, and electronics industries, too.