Our Process

Revolutionizing a 160-year-old process to create scientifically superior alloys.

The Problem:

Homogeneous Alloys

old steel mill
Traditional steel alloys are created by adding the alloying elements to the molten steel, resulting in a homogeneous alloy. However, these uniform alloys are intrinsically flawed. The elements added to achieve specific properties often degrade other properties. This results in costly trade-offs in functionality and design for end-users. For example, chromium is added to stainless steel to improve corrosion resistance, but chromium also significantly degrades formability. This forces manufacturers to use higher-cost alloys when formability is required. We estimate these trade-offs cost the industry over $3 billion in scrap rates and “over-alloy” expenses. Similar trade-offs are observed in electrical steels, damping steels, and nearly every other alloy system. We believe it’s time for a change.

The Solution:

Spatially Optimized Diffusion Alloys (SODA)

We changed the order and revolutionized the process.

roll of steel

Low Carbon Steel

Our process begins with a coil of generic steel. This can be a basic low carbon steel, a cold-rolled motor lam steel, or other common grades.

Slurry Application

A slurry is applied to the surface of the coil using roll-coaters. This slurry is a vehicle for holding powdered metals, such as chromium or nickel, near the surface of the steel coil. The slurry is applied to the coil using the same equipment as paint or conversion coatings already used in the coil coating industry.

Slurry Application
Heat Treatment

Heat Treatment

After the slurry is applied, the steel coil is moved into an annealing furnace where it is heated above 800C (1475F). At these temperatures, the alloying elements vaporize and migrate to the surface of the steel. When they reach the steel surface they are deposited and diffuse into the steel. As these elements diffuse, they create a surface alloy inseparable from the steel core. Determined by processing parameters, the concentration and depth of the alloy layer can range from roughly ten microns to full thickness of the steel.

Cleaning

After annealing, the excess slurry is removed. At this point the coil may be ready for use by OEMs or it can be post-processed further as needed.

cleaning metal sheets
Finished Product

Finished Product

Our process results in a unique microstructure. The alloying element is only present in the region nearest to the surface, while the center remains un-alloyed. This allows us to tailor the surface properties independently from the bulk properties. In the example of stainless steel, chromium is only placed where it is needed most—on the surface to prevent corrosion. The bulk still maintains the formability of low carbon steel. This revolutionary process has countless applications. We’ve only scratched the surface of what is possible.

Talk to a Team Member

Interested in learning more about our revolutionary process and what it can do for you? Whether you want to discuss current products or potential applications, we have team members ready to talk through the possibilities.

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