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Development of an innovative method for mechanical surface treatment of metal products by collision of fine particles at high speed

Kita-ward, Nagoya-City
Fuji Kihan Co., Ltd.
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Recommended by
Aichi Industrial Technology Institute
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Miyasaka, Yoshio  (62)
President

Victory in car races including F1. Our technology supports such victory behind the scenes
summary

In the shot peening, in which particles are collided to the metal components, usually hard and large particles were used to increase the strength of the components. However, this company thought differently and developed a new technology for blowing the fine particles, the volume of which is 1/3000 the conventional particles, at high speed for tens of seconds to several minutes. This new method (WPC treatment) enabled performing the heat treatment, in which quick heating/cooling is repeated on a metal surface instantaneously, while strengthening the metal. In addition, the new method can be used for precision components because fine particles are used, and so it is now widely used for machine parts, cutting tools, dies, etc.

summary

What will happen if smaller particles are used for shot peening? 
A simple idea resulted in a great breakthrough.

Many Japanese cars manufactured decades ago are still running in the emerging countries. Many people in the world say, "the Japanese cars do not get out of order". What is different? The Japanese carmakers have high technology and every piece of thousands of parts has high accuracy and strength. Those parts are manufactured by Japanese subcontract manufacturers and Fuji Kihan Co., Ltd. is one of them. About thirty years ago, this company developed a technology called "Wonder Process Craft (WPC)" treatment that extended the life span of metal components drastically. 

"The technology called shot-peening was used for manufacturing of the plate springs used for the suspension of the US military jeeps to have high strength and flexibility. After the war, this technology was introduced from the U.S. to Japan and the WPC treatment was developed based on it. For example, the surface of an aluminum pot has a pattern looking like fish scales. This pattern was made because the surface was hit with a hammer repeatedly to increase its strength. The shot-peening is a technology that performs the treatment mechanically and effectively. A large quantity of metallic particles of 0.8 to 1mm is blown by gas to hit the surface of metal components.

"The shot-peening can be used for large components, but small components are destroyed even when they are hit by particles of 1mm diameter. Therefore we thought that we should use small particles. The technology for manufacturing of metallic particles in size of micron meters had been already established about thirty years before and so we tried our idea"
The new particle was so small that its diameter was only 50m (micron meter), about 1/3000 that of conventional ones, and we blew the new particles by high-pressure gas to hit the metal surface and found the astonishing effects. We performed this WPC treatment for the blades of machine tools, dies and automobile transmission gears, for which the shot-peening could not be used, and found that their life span could be extended ten times longer at the maximum.
Mr. Miyasaka says laughingly, "The new technology was invented so easily. I have no secret story for this invention".

The unimaginable effects of the WPS treatment which even the major carmakers could not help admiring

However, we had a problem after our invention. Nobody believes us and said, "What on earth are you doing? Do you really perform the shot-peening for a blade?" Seeing our test results, some companies adopted our new technology but they kept it secret from their competitors. Therefore we had difficulties in sales.
We had a turning point fifteen years after our invention of the technology. We decided to license it to a major carmaker. 
An automobile transmission started to have more gears for speed change, but the gearbox could not be made larger. Therefore it was necessary to have the gears thinner and more precise. However, the large torque to run an automobile was the same and so even a thinner gear had to have the same strength and durability as an old thick gear.
"However, major carmakers were too proud to use a patent technology owned by a small company. That major company tested various methods and, finding that only the WPC method could provide the high performance at low cost, it concluded a license contract reluctantly with us."
The fact that the top Japanese carmaker adopted our technology had incredible advertising effects. We concluded a license agreement with all the carmakers in Japan. Currently we provide our technology to 130 Japanese companies under license agreement. 
The academic society also noticed the WPC treatment, and Chubu and Meijo Universities as key members analyzed it technically and found the unexpected fact. Usual shot-peening only strengthens a metal, but in the WPC treatment that uses fine particles, heat is generated when the fine particles hit a metal surface, and the heat treatment, in which quick heating/cooling is repeated, is performed at the same time. Therefore the WPC treatment has effects unimaginable in the shot-peening.

"For several 'ever-victorious' top teams in the F1 car race, we have performed the WPC treatment for their car engines."
It is even said that victory or defeat in a car race such as F1 depends on how far the WPC treatment is performed for a car engine.
Currently his company is studying various methods by changing the materials of particles, gas and speed. The company has succeeded in development of technologies for coating a glass like plating and for strengthening (high-hardening of steel surface) of aluminum surface that was impossible before. The WPC treatment still has great potential.

Fuji Kihan Co., Ltd.

http://www.fujikihan.co.jp/

Established:
Apr. 1977
Capital:
20 million yen
Employees:
21 (as of Dec. 2009)
Brief information:
The company specializes in the WPC/PIP treatment for metal products and manufactures the natural catalyst PIP products. Currently its patent for the WPC treatment is licensed to 130 companies.

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Image1

What Mr. Miyasaka has in his hand is a connecting rod that costs about one million yen for a racecar engine. Victory or defeat in a car race depends on how far the WPC treatment is performed for a car engine.

Image2

It seems like a magic that the life span of metallic components is several times longer when their surface is hit by powder-like metallic fine particles.

Image3

It was said to be impossible to plate a glass, but the WPC treatment enabled it. When fine particles of tin are blown to a glass, they are melted by the heat caused when they hit it, and its surface is coated.

Image4

By using titanium-oxidized filters treated in the WPC, about 100 varicolored carps can live in a small aquarium. Some of them are as long as 80cm.