The use of microwaves to process absorbing materials was studied intensively in the 1970s and 1980s, and has now been applied to a wide variety of materials. Initially, success in microwave heating and sintering was confined mainly to oxide and some non-oxide ceramics; but recently the technique has been extended to carbide semimetals used in cutting tools. Here we describe the microwave sintering of powdered metals to full density. We are able to sinter a wide range of standard powdered metals from commercial sources using a 2.45-GHz microwave field, yielding dense products with better mechanical properties than those obtained by conventional heating. These findings are surprising in view of the reflectivity of bulk metals at microwave frequencies. The ability to sinter metals with microwaves should assist in the preparation of high-performance metal parts needed in many industries, for example, in the automotive industry.
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