Cryogenic processing was developed by NASA in the 60's. Every vessel sent into outer space was processed to protect it from the extreme cold
of outer space and the extreme heat of re-entry. Like everything else NASA developed, this treatment was paid for with American taxpayer dollars.
Until recently, when the process was no longer a secret, NASA had offered a technology exchange grant program. This program would match
the technology with companies that could bring the benefits back to the American businesses and consumers who paid for the development in
the first place. At first, the computer power required to maintain the precise temperatures and times was not affordable or reliable. Now, there is
more computer power in a watch than was available to an aerospace engineer in the '60s when we were first landing people on the moon.
“Cryo” means cold, but that’s not the whole story. Everything we process gets frozen to temperatures below -300 degrees F. We use several
different time/temperature profiles depending on certain variables like maximum wall thickness and total mass being processed. There are
pauses in the process where the items can rest before further temperature descent. Then everything is held down at temperatures below -300
degrees F for 12-40 hours. The process is so gentle we can even process things like light bulbs.
Wear parts such as tools, gears, etc., are subject to one of many different heat tempering processes. Here, the variable is the material itself. We
use different temperatures for different metals. We use a triple tempering process that brings the material to a specific temperature three times.
By using fans and well-insulated chambers, we can ensure uniform temperatures in the chambers and avoid stratification that can cause the
items to not see the full benefit of the process.
At the extreme cold level, several things change. In carbon-based metals three things change:
1. The softer Austenite structure of the metal is converted to the harder Martensite structure.
2. The existing carbon molecules are evenly dispersed.
3. Small carbide particles are created that fit between the existing larger carbon particles.
The material alignment at the molecular level
is enhanced. While dimensions are
unchanged, the surfaces are slightly
smoothed. This smoothing of the surface is
not visible. A matte finish does not become
glossy in this process. Many plastics become
more uniform. Metal parts become harder and
tougher, but less brittle because of their
uniform structure. These metals will also be
more corrosion resistant due to the slight
smoothing effect on the surfaces. Items also
show less resistance to electricity. Over 90%
of what is treated lasts 2-5 times as long.
Motor racers see benefits from the engine
itself to the gears to the springs in the valves.
Short block Chevy engines can generate an
additional 15 horsepower (due to the
smoothing of the cylinder walls). In addition,
they can go two to four times the number of
laps or races before overhauls. And finally,
they can often red line without damage to the
block. Gears will not strip and springs will not
break during a race like their un-cryo’d
counterparts. NASCAR, Winston Cup, NHRA and go-carts all see similar results.
Sporting goods applications include aluminum softball bats that resist denting, allow the ball to “trampoline” off the bat faster, and reduce
tingling in the hands. Rifle and hand gun barrels that shoot tighter patterns longer are getting more popular. Even hooks and line for the
fisherman benefit from cryogenic processing. Tennis players can re-string their rackets less often. Also golfers are getting up to 40 additional
yards from processed golf balls and similar results from processed golf clubs.
Another very important benefit is that items only have to be processed one time. This is a permanent, irreversible process. Everything from lawn
mower blades to drills can be processed once and have the benefits every time you have them reground or re-sharpened. Additionally, less
material has to be removed, so you can expect up to twice the number of resurfacings before you have to replace the item. End-users and
university lab testing indicates that parts can be machined to closer tolerances because the material is more uniform and doesn't tend to “grab”
the cutting tool. Early testing is indicating some thermal improvement in plastics.
Our cost ranges from $2.50 to $6.00 per pound. The cost depends primarily on weight. There is a minimum order fee of $20.00. We also offer a
set price program where a price per pound on all items can be agreed upon, depending on process usage. Non-bulk items such as inserts and
end mills would be $20.00 or more depending on weight. The price is very easy to justify, in that a $60.00 cutter would last twice as long.
Current customers have calculated seven to one pay back on the dollar. This is easy to realize by looking at the five areas the process impacts:
1. The cost of new tooling is considerably delayed
2. The cost of re-sharpening, re-grinding, and re-working of tools is decreased
3. The cost of scheduled and unscheduled downtime to replace tooling is decreased
4. The cost of labor to replace or adjust tooling is decreased
5. The cost of scraped or damaged parts due to worn tooling is decreased
Please call if you have any questions concerning the process or potential applications. The Cryogenic unit is operated at our location in South
Capacity: 2500 pounds maximum load
18.5" W x 28" D x 67" L, 72" Diagonal