Stamp Mold Quench
The stamp mold quench (SMQ) process is the combination of hot stamping, molding, and quenching into a single operation. The process can yield a 50% increase in bending stiffness due to molded ribs and a 50% increase in yield strength due to solution heat treatment in quench hardenable alloys. Additionally, the tooling provides greater dimensional control, less energy consumption, and lower manufacturing costs. The result of the SMQ process is the ability to produce highly engineered parts that enable advanced lightweighting opportunities.
The SMQ process uses smart susceptor technology to provide rapid heating while an underlying laminated tool structure enables a liquid quench. Traditional hot stamping tools stay hot while the parts are ejected from the die and cooled. This cooling rate is too slow for a full solution heat treatment. The SMQ process, however, continues to heat the part after the initial forming. The forming surface is heated which conductively heats the part above the material's solution heat treat temperature but below the solidus temperature. Precise temperature control is key. Within this temperature range, the yield stress of the material is approximately 10% of its normal value. At this point, additional pressure generates shear in the material and molds and enables the creation of stiffening features, bosses, etc. Because the temperature is below the solidus temperature, it does not liquefy. But, because the temperature is above the solution temperature, it can be solution heat treated with quenching water that flows between the laminated tool structure. This implies that SMQ parts stamped and molded from aluminum can achieve T6 tempers that are not possible with warm forming or casting. These same benefits apply to hardenable magnesium alloys as well. Combine these features with the tooling's ability to use sheet stock, the SMQ process is capable of producing very large and very thin, multi-thickness aluminum and magnesium components to a high yield strength, high bending stiffness with dimensional repeatability that is not possible with other processes.