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Valve seat insert breakthrough

Federal-Mogul has unveiled a cost-effective new material for valve seat inserts that helps manufacturers meet the durability demands of engine downsizing.

The company’s lean tool steel powder metal is said to be more efficient to machine than conventional alloys, allowing faster throughput and improved productivity on customers’ engine cylinder head production lines.

Downsized, highly-loaded and alternative-fuelled engines run at higher temperatures and higher loads, placing greater demands on the valvetrain and particularly on the valve seat insert. Guaranteeing the necessary hardness and resistance to deformation and wear at elevated temperatures usually requires the use of tool steel grade alloys, containing relatively high amounts of molybdenum and tungsten, which are typically higher-cost elements in an alloy’s composition.

Federal-Mogul’s new lean tool steel increases the amount of chromium in the mix, adding cost-effective carbides to the alloy to create a multiple-phase composite microstructure. The resulting material produces valve seat inserts with the same wear resistance as concentrated tool steel powders, but with greatly increased machinability. The hard phases of the material measure over 1000HV50 on the Vickers hardness scale, while the softer matrix provides for longer tool life when bevel cutting the seats, for example. This extended tool life enables better production rates for cylinder head machining through faster cutting speeds and higher cutting feed rates.

“The lean tool steel valve seat material demonstrates how Federal-Mogul uses leading technology and innovation to provide customers with cost-effective, eco-friendly products that enable greener, higher efficiency powertrains and more competitive vehicles,” said Rainer Jueckstock, Federal-Mogul senior vice president for powertrain energy. “Our metallurgical, process and production expertise has produced an effective solution for a highly complex technical issue.”

The new material is suitable for both aluminum and cast iron cylinder heads and is compatible with gasoline, ethanol, diesel and biodiesel fuel blends, according to Denis Christopherson, Federal-Mogul’s R&D manager, valve seats and guides. “Compared to other existing materials, lean tool steel is easier but more robust to manufacture and helps our customers achieve better cylinder head machining and engine performance. This new material has the potential to become the foundation of our future portfolio of valve seat materials,” he said.

Federal-Mogul recently began production of lean tool steel with an existing customer, and it is currently undergoing evaluation with additional customers. The company also is studying the potential for further derivatives of the composition to suit other applications that require high-temperature wear properties, such as turbocharger components.

5 January 2011


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