Tesla has submitted a patent that describes a new, more effective cooling process for manufacturing high-strength aluminium components to be used in its product line.
The patent entitled, “System and Method for Facilitating Pulsed Spray Quench of Extruded Objects”, describes a quenching process that aims to increase the strength, rigidity, and energy absorption of aluminium alloy components. A multi-way spray nozzle system would cool extruded aluminium with an atomised spray of liquid.
“A system includes a billet die at a proximal end configured to accept a billet and form an extrudate, a quench chamber located adjacent to the billet die for receiving the extrudate and comprising at least one pulsed width modulation (PWM) atomising spray nozzle and a control module in communication with the at least one PWM atomising spray nozzle and configured to independently control a liquid pressure, a gas pressure, a spray frequency, a duty cycle and flow rate of each at least one PWM atomising spray nozzle,” reads the patent abstract.
Vehicles today use 6XXX aluminium alloys, which make up the front and rear bumpers, side and back steps, and knee bolsters of a car, the Kobelco Technology Review stated. Tesla also indicates within the patent that it uses 6XXX alloys for its vehicles. After these parts are extruded, they enter a quenching process, which is simply the process of cooling the metal after it has been heated.
Currently, Tesla utilises a quenching process that involves cooling recently extruded aluminium alloys by soaking the parts in water. This process of quenching is recognised as “quick cooling.” While other cooling means are available, such as air cooling and furnace cooling, soaking the parts in water is the most time-effective method for automotive manufacturing.