Development of an interactive batch planning system for plasma nitriding plants
Plasma nitriding is a heat treatment process to improve the surface quality and properties (strength, corrosion resistance, wear) of metallic components. This process is used among other things for complex and highly stressed components in the automotive, aerospace and toolmaking industries. The positioning of the components in the plant is essential for an optimal production result in this complex, radiation-dominated process, since the temperature distribution and thus the range of the material properties of the component result from the geometric arrangement of the parts.
Until now, plasma nitriding systems have been designed by the system manufacturer for a defined loading situation. For the plant operators, process-related quality defects or unused capacities of the plant can arise during the start of production or when the production program is changed. This leads to high specific component costs, especially with small batch sizes and/or frequent grade changes, since a high percentage of components with quality defects is present and/or the plant capacity is not optimally used.
The aim of this research project is to develop a novel interactive batch planning system for predicting the plasma nitriding result as a function of the loading situation of the plasma nitriding plant. This is realised by a system which calculates the nitriding result (nitriding hardness depth) for a specific loading situation with parts of the plant before charging. This calculation allows the plant operator to adjust the loading situation with regard to the temperature distribution in the plant as well as the utilization of the plant capacity in order to achieve the best possible production result of the component batch. The joint research project comprises the development and experimental validation of the batch planning system on the basis of physical models.
The research project with the funding code ZF4042205SU6 is funded by the Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy on the basis of a resolution of the German Bundestag.