Semi-solid metal casting (SSM), also known as thixocasting, rheocasting, thixoforming or thixomolding, is a near net shape process in the production of parts out of metals. The process combines the advantages of casting and forging.
For the steel, complex geometries made possible by thixoforging widen the perspectives of pieces manufacturing. Some shapes can become very elaborate or may be a few mini-meters thin on height of more than two centi-meters.
Thixoforging of steel is poorly known for large quantities production, in particular little information is available about the life-span of the tools, which a strategic part of the operating cost given the high processing temperatures. Productivity gains that could bring thixoforged products requires the characterisation of the tools wearing. The THIXOFRANC programme involving Forges de Courcelles , Bouguignon Barré, ENSAM, MATERALIA, CRITT MDTS, Mecatech, Ascometal, Aubert & Duval, GRESPI of Reims University and Fives Celes has been structured to answer this need. This R&D programme is supported by région Champagne Ardenne through MATERALIA and Europe.
Fives Celes is involved in the project as a sub-contractor of the consortium members for the design and manufacturing of the induction heating solution. Fives Celes also provide the 600kW inverter during the testing period for heating up the steel pieces.