Following is the transcript from the recent webinar, “Why it makes sense to start using SSDI” presented by Jason Parr of Dura-Bar.
Hi, everyone. My name is Jason Parr. I’m gonna start off with a little bit about our organization and the overall benefits of using Dura-Bar.
Charter Manufacturing has four distinct companies, Charter Steel, Charter Automotive, Charter Wire and us, Charter Dura-Bar. We’re located in Woodstock, Illinois and we’re about an hour and 15 minutes northwest of downtown Chicago. We have a 360 thousand square foot manufacturing facility with the ability to melt 500 tons of iron per day, and a capacity to store about 30 million pounds of our product. We make rounds, squares, rectangles, as well as custom shapes. We support a network of distributors spanning 100 locations throughout North America, as well as China.
One fun fact about our campus is the pond that you see in both those images, the water from that pond is actually circulated into our manufacturing facility to cool down the iron as it is produced. And looking at how we manufacture Dura-Bar, first, to dispel any misconceptions, we are not a sand casting company. We make continuous cast iron bar stock.
From a process perspective, Dura-Bar’s continuous cast process is one of our main differentiators. The process begins with a water-cooled graphite dye that is machined to form the shape of the desired bar. The dye is mounted on a bar machine crucible, and then the bar is pulled horizontally from the crucible. The head pressure feeds molten iron into the dye producing a fine grain cast bar. Our process enabled the microstructure of the iron to be free from impurities, such as slag, gas holes, and other tool-wary inclusions, producing material that is a superior alternative to carbon steels.
The first obvious advantage is that Dura-Bar is 10% lighter than steel. So you’re saving money on the weight immediately. Another advantage is the formation of chips when machining. When steel is machined, as many of you know, you get very sharp, not easy to handle stringers. When machining Dura-Bar, though, you’ll get chips that are not sharp, more compact, lead-free, and easy to handle. And in Dura-Bar, you’ll see a dense, fine-grain microstructure with a uniform graphite distribution, which makes all of our material easier to machine and leads to longer tool life.
So, the process I just went through is the same one we’re using to make our solution strengthened ductile iron, or, as we call it, SSDI. And for this webinar, I’m going to talk to you about a wide array of topics, including these. The first and most important topic is “what is SSDI and why it makes sense to start using SSDI”? Then I’ll talk about the benefits of using SSDI, also cover how we’re innovating through our product development framework and how we launched and went to market SSDI. Also, I’ll give a quick sneak peak about what we’re working on in the future.
So, to start, what is SSDI? Dura-Bar SSDI is a new grade of ductile iron that combines the elevated mechanical strength of a pearlitic ductile line with machinability advantages of a ferritic ductile iron. To note, the reduced pearlite aids machinability … aids in machinability and improves elongation. By combining the best of both desired properties, as I just mentioned, SSDI is an attractive grade of ductile iron that provides several benefits in designing and manufacturing of several different types of metal components. So, now moving on to the more technical aspects of SSDI. Here, the mechanical properties for our existing grades of ductile iron that you’re probably familiar with, which we refer to as 65-45-12 and 80-55-06. Which, to note, tensile strength, yield strength, as well as elongation.
SSDI is a more — has the strength of a more pearlitic ductile iron, such as 80-55-06, with the more ferritic properties of a 65-45-12, which allows for ever better machinability. As you see, here, SSDI has a minimum tensile strength of 75 thousand psi, yield strength of 55 thousand psi, and elongation of 15%. The new material also boasts a tightened Brinell hardness range across the materials entirety. These values for Dura-Bar are all minimums. I’ve seen some SSDI values that far exceed what you see here. To that note, I’d also like to point that SSDI is an excellent alternative to medium carbon steels, especially 1045, as well as 1040 and 1144. For the metallurgists out there, this will add some benefit. Essentially, SSDI’s microstructure contains type-one and type-two nodular graphite and can be summarized as 85% nodularity.
So, now, here’s a few more technical details that we can think about.
There are a few things I’m not gonna cover in depth but wanted to make all of you aware that we have performed fatigue testing, wear testing, and in the playing stages of pressure testing SSDI. We’re also looking at the weld-ability potential of SSDI. For those interested, I can definitely provide the chemical composition, as well as any of the mechanical and physical properties of SSDI.
We’ve also tested heat treating SSDI. There are definite limitations in that, but our initial results show SSDI can be oil crunched hardened, at 1650° F, to a hardness Rockwell C of 35 to 40. When untreated, the SSDI microstructure is primarily ferritic. However, when heat treated the microstructure changes and becomes martensitic. In addition to all that, I can also provide a full tour analysis, if desired. So, now looking at a few of the benefits of SSDI. Like I mentioned and will continue to mention throughout the webinar, one of the key features of SSDI is the enhanced machinability due to the graphite contained in its microstructure. SSDI is a ferritic nature with small amounts of pearlite. The microstructure is forced to be ferritic because of a heavy addition of silicone which, in the solution, strengthens part of SSDI.
The ease of machinability comes from the nodular types of graphite that form in the material. Again, we’ve seen approximately 30% greater productivity with no negative impact in tool wear. So, think about that for just a minute. By simply changing your material, you can save 30% in time and money right off the bat. We can physically visit your facility, or machine shop, and actually prove how you can save money using SSDI.
Now, does SSDI work for every application or part you’re producing? No. But today, we have provided SSDI sample bars to nearly 10 organizations. There has been nothing but positive feedback from those companies across several industries, including fluid power, as well as oil and gas. And here’s a few specific fluid power applications that we can all look at for SSDI. As I mentioned, on the slide, SSDI has been machine tested on several applications, in both fluid power, oil and gas, and I think it also has potential in transportation, as well as heavy machinery and equipment. But since we’re all here for fluid power, SSDI can be used for hydraulic manifolds, rotors, rotary screw compressors, and hydraulic cylinders, just to name a few. And this is definitely not an exhaustive list.
For just a minute, let’s focus on hydraulic manifolds. I mentioned manifold pressure testing a few slides ago. But looking forward at that, over the next few months, we’ll be performing hydraulic manifold pressure testing on SSDI. The hope with this is that we’ll be able to get a higher pressure rating for SSDI to open up brand new opportunities that we haven’t seen before. If you are in that manifold space, and would like to explore pressure testing with us, please contact me. I’d love to work with you on this. I’d really like to hear about the cycles you’re looking for, burst testing and overall pressure ratings you need. Again, talking about customer success this year. Here are a few quotes from those that were able to machine test our product. Again, these are actual quotes and feedback I received from leading OEMs in the fluid power space from machining trails. These are pretty powerful,
“9% less horsepower,”
“20% reduction in cycle time,”
“Machine’s better than anything we’ve run before.”
So, we talked about several benefits of SSDI, the technical details of the material. But really, how did we get here as an organization? It’s through innovation. I really like this quote, “Innovation is the ability to see change as an opportunity, not a threat.” I see the opportunity we have with SSDI as something that is exciting and new. It is definitely a change and potentially a disrupter. It may open up new applications that we don’t even know about yet, but we need to be willing to partner together and explore these opportunities. On our end, we’re striving to innovate and we’ve taken a new approach as an organization as a whole. We transformed into a product-driven organization and are committed to developing new products. SSDI is one of those products and one of the first new products to be developed using our in-house designed new product development stage-gate process. This is not a one-off occurrence for us. We will continue to have new products in the pipeline that will through our stage-gate process. Out of our new product development process, we commercialize SSDI, our first new product in a very, very long time.
So, how do we do this? Here’s the framework we used from product initialization all the way to commercialization and, ultimately, launching the product. I’m not gonna go into all the details of each gate. But, as I mentioned, we are now a product-driven organization.
I want to show you some of the recognition SSDI has seen to date. We officially launched SSDI into the market in June of this year, so just a few months ago. And so far, we’ve covered the gambit of social media, industry publications, notably, Fluid Power World. We were also featured as a cover story for Gas Compression Magazine. For trade shows, this year, we featured SSDI at the Fluid Power Technical Conference in Milwaukee, the Power Transmission Control Show in Shanghai, as well as IMTS in Chicago. One of our newest accomplishments in the marketplace is being one of the two finalists in the Advanced Materials category for this year’s Leap award, which is a huge honor that I’m really excited about.
The commercialization of SSDI has progressed over the past few months, really coming with this webinar. That’s SSDI. So what is next for Dura-Bar?
We’re going to continue to push the boundaries and innovate. We’re currently working to develop a continuous cast-two product and are always looking for new alloys for customer specific applications. I’m especially excited about new and emerging markets and technologies where SSDI can be a solution, looking specifically at consumer and industrial robotics, alternative energy applications, such as solar and wind power.
I’ll say, let’s all continue to think outside the box. SSDI is definitely new. It has huge potential in the fluid power market, and I’d like to explore this potential more with all of you. So, feel free to contact me with questions, email me or send me a Linkedin invitation, and please follow us on social media sites, especially Linkedin.