Unobtanium Takes the Stand: a Q&A with Team ALLVAR

Unobtanium Negative Thermal Expansion

Here at ALLVAR, our unique products are often met with curiosity, disbelief, and extreme interest upon learning about our negative CTE alloys. There are so many reasons why ALLVAR Alloys are worth the investment, and we love to educate and discuss these ideas with anyone interested in learning more.  We caught up with ALLVAR’s technical team to discuss some of the common questions they receive when speaking with potential partners and customers. You can find their answers from a transcribed interview below!  

Q: What products and applications could use ALLVAR Alloys? 

A: There are many applications and products that negative CTE ALLVAR Alloys can improve! Some of the most notable are space telescopes, optics used in extreme environments, lens housings, and unique scientific instruments. ALLVAR washers are also extremely effective at athermalizing cryogenic test equipment. While most fastening equipment is shrinking in the cold, making equipment loose, ours is expanding and maintaining its hold. Our washers can help maintain tension on an assembly so the bracket and frame do not move amidst extreme temperature shifts. This can also apply to applications like liquid natural gas transport and precision manufacturing. If your project, application or product needs to perform in extreme environments with precise requirements, ALLVAR Alloys will revolutionize your build! 

Q: ALLVAR Alloys are more expensive than titanium. How can I afford it? 

A: ALLVAR Alloys are made with a proprietary chemistry, custom manufacturing requirements, and specific material processing methods to achieve its one-of-a-kind athermalizing properties. Like in any other industry, economies of scale affect all of the proprietary steps and cost of material. While you might save money on the upfront cost using other materials for your system, our alloy will reduce rework and design time. Those additional costs can be far greater than the initial investment in the right material for the job. 

Q: Why should I buy ALLVAR Alloys when I have a custom athermalization solution that uses plastic, titanium, or aluminum? 

A: If the product you are making solves your problem without additional headaches, ALLVAR Alloys may not be the best fit for your product or application. Not the answer you were expecting? ALLVAR Alloys are designed for companies that have extreme performance requirements and need a customized solution for performance critical applications. ALLVAR Alloys are for previously unachievable size, length, and weight requirements. For instance, if you have a product that has athermalization-based housing constraints, ALLVAR Alloys can reduce the number of components and length of your system. ALLVAR Alloy’s unique negative thermal expansion property can be used to offset the most extreme thermal requirements by creating a controlled athermalization system.  

Q: ALLVAR doesn’t have X, Y, or Z data, is purchasing ALLVAR Alloys a risk? 

A: It depends on your project’s risk adversity and requirements. ALLVAR Alloys are a completely unique, true metal material, with revolutionary athermalizing properties – there are no other materials like this in existence. In order to meet more stringent requirements, our team of technical engineers are constantly testing and developing our products to collect more data. We are working towards getting our design-allowable properties in the Metallic Materials Properties Development and Standardization (MMPDS), and we are currently exploring opportunities for funding in this area. We welcome discussion and partnerships in research and development of our products as we continue to explore ALLVAR Alloys further.

Q: What ASTM specifications are ALLVAR Alloys manufactured to? 

A: ALLVAR Alloys are new. They are not manufactured to any ASTM or other governing body’s standards because there are no specifications to compare it to.  According to these standards, there is no such thing as a titanium or any metal that shrinks when it gets hot! 

 Q: Have ALLVAR Alloys flown on a mission? 

A: We are in the process of getting negative CTE ALLVAR Alloys into space, and we expect to achieve that goal within the next 1-2 years. ALLVAR Alloys are true Titanium alloys, and behave as such.  We do not foresee any problems with ALLVAR’s performance in space. Stay tuned for more! 

Q: How do ALLVAR Alloys compare to INVAR? 

A: INVAR’s material cost does not reflect the cost of the machining and processing. INVAR requires multiple rounds of heat treating to achieve its near-zero CTE properties in machined parts, greatly increasing its processing cost. INVAR is a low thermal expansion alloy that was discovered over 125 years ago and is widely used for demanding thermal applications. ALLVAR Alloys were discovered in the past decade and can be used to achieve low, zero, negative, or tuned thermal expansion systems. While INVAR may be a less expensive near-zero CTE material than ALLVAR Alloys, there are many downsides to using it. INVAR is sensitive – not to mention heavy. It is also magnetic and very corrosive.  Unlike INVAR, ALLVAR Alloys derive their negative CTE properties through a unique blend of processing and chemistry. ALLVAR Alloys are also lightweight, corrosion-resistant, non-magnetic, and don’t require extensive heat treatments.  

Q: Does ALLVAR have any distributors? 

ALLVAR sells directly to the end user – we do not have any distributors at this time.  

Q: Can ALLVAR Alloys be machined like other titanium-based alloys? 

A: Yes! If you can machine titanium, you can machine ALLVAR Alloys. 

Q: Can ALLVAR Alloys be cast, or 3D printed? 

A: ALLVAR Alloys cannot be cast, 3D printed, or sintered (via powder metallurgy). ALLVAR Alloys are created through a series of various custom manufacturing and proprietary processing methods.  

Q: I am not sure I can use ALLVAR Alloys, but I think I have an application. What should I do? 

A: Please contact us! We are just as much a team of material engineers as we are material manufacturers. We pride ourselves on being a transparent and solution-oriented team that will tell you if ALLVAR Alloys are right for you. If ALLVAR Alloys are not right for you, we are more than happy to suggest an alternative solution that will fit your needs.

If reducing thermal errors could help with your product or manufacturing processes, reach out to us today!

Don’t forget to follow ALLVAR on our LinkedIn page, check out our YouTube page, and subscribe to our newsletter to stay up to date with our latest news and events! As a team of passionate material scientists and engineers, we would love to connect and answer any questions you may have about our revolutionary material. 

Contact Us Today to Revolutionize Your Thermal Performance

Have an application in mind? Please let us know if you have any questions.


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