Materials Processing Methods and Equipment

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Materials processing refers to a series of operations that transform industrial materials from a raw-material state into finished parts or products. The transformation of raw-materials to finished products performs two main functions: forming the material into a shape and altering its physical properties. Material processing by hand has been around since civilization began and was mechanized with the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in the 18th century principally in England. Since that time the methods, techniques and equipment have developed rapidly.

Many different chemical and mechanical processes are used to modify the cellular or molecular structure of materials and to improve their properties. Thermal processes involving the addition or reduction of heat are also important in altering the material’s physical characteristics.

For example, the preferential orientation of polycrystalline grains during deformation and recrystallization can be influenced by the effects of the driving force on specific slip and twin systems, the difference in thermal conductivity between different crystallographic directions and by the presence of subgrains with preferred orientations. The development and understanding of this phenomenon is an area of active research.

Laser material processing is a fast and effective way to change the appearance and/or shape of a wide range of materials. It is compatible with both non-metals (ceramics, composites and plastics/polymers) and metals. It is also easy to work with and is suitable for a wide variety of shapes and sizes. Depending on the wavelength and power of the laser, a variety of effects can be produced.