FLASH® BAINITE — HIGH PERFORMANCE ARMOR
Gary Cola, Flash Bainite, Washington, MI
The Flash® Bainite Process is a rapid heat treating process for creating steel that is stronger than titanium, lighter than aluminum, and made at lower cost than traditional high-strength steel. Flash Bainite steel, which was originally developed for the armor industry, is migrating to civilian uses such as automotive applications (safer/lighter crash structure), building/bridge construction (stronger), and even lawn edger blades (longer life).
The process creates an engineered micro-segregation of both the chemistry and microstructural phase at the micron level. With low total elongation, Flash steels exhibit excellent bendability, minimal thinning, and high energy absorption when formed into complex OEM geometries.
Costly alloying and time-consuming, capital- intensive thermomechanical processing are not required. Using industrial induction-heat and water-quench equipment configured and tuned for Flash processing parameters, off-the-shelf steel is rapidly heated (2- 3 seconds) to temperatures of about 1070 to 1200 °C. Within a few seconds, the heated steel is quenched with a water spray or bath. By limiting heating time, the natural heterogeneity of the steel is preserved to create a highly complex, multi-phase, multi-chemistry steel that combines the ductility of bainite and the strength of martensite.
Flash Bainite made from AISI 1020 is 1500 MPa, which is comparable to DP1000. Because of its higher strength, less Flash Bainite material is needed, and the end product/part weighs less. Off-the-shelf sheet, plate, and tubing can be made into Flash Bainite. It’s formable to 1T/Zero-T bend radii up to 1600 MPa, and can be welded with spot, laser, and gas metal arc welding (GMAW) using standard factory floor procedures. The steel is also hydro-formable to reasonable sweeps and complex cross sections.
For less than $0.15/lb., the proprietary Flash process transforms tubing and sheet/plates from
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