Spark Plasma Sintering (SPS)
Sintering is a material fabrication technique used with powders to create a solid mass by applying heat and typically also pressure. Spark Plasma Sintering, or SPS, uses hydraulic pressure and a pulsating direct electrical current all within an atmospheric vacuum. The rate at which sintering can be achieved with this method allows the material to maintain its intrinsic properties in the new, dense form.
Typically, the desired powder to be sintered is placed between two punches within a cylindrical die. This is then placed between the two electrodes, within the low atmospheric chamber, which also apply the hydraulic pressure to the punches.
One of the main benefits with SPS is the time savings in comparison to conventional sintering methods. SPS can achieve a heating rate of 1000 °C/min and typically will complete the sintering process in 5 to 20 minutes. Conventional hot press sintering can vary even beyond 10 hours.