Ural Federal University: Ural Metallurgists Brought the Victory and Surprised in Peacetime

We continue our series of publications devoted to the university’s 100th anniversary. This time we will tell about the Ural School of Metal Forming, one of the oldest scientific schools of Ural Federal University.

We brought this day as close as we could

Without the Ural School of Metal Forming, perhaps the victory of the Soviet people in the Great Patriotic War would have come later and with even greater losses. With the active participation of Akim Golovin (1880-1949), the founder of the school, the technology for producing especially strong armor steel was developed by rolling ingots on a blooming mill, a large rolling mill. This technology, introduced at the Magnitogorsk Iron and Steel Plant, ensured the production and supply of armored vehicles to the front at the very beginning of the war.

Besides, under the direction of Akim Golovin the production of high-strength electrode wire for welding was arranged at Revda hardware plant, which was badly needed for production of tanks and self-propelled guns. He also solved the problem of ensuring production of rifle cartridge cases and artillery shells. Finally, Golovin developed the technology of rolling tubes for mortar shells.

Akim Golovin’s students Viktor Shveykin, Vasily Smirnov and Joseph Tarnovsky created the technology of rolling of low plastic alloy in copper shells for reconstructive surgery, the method of production of a shell billet by cross rolling and also promoted production of ribbon from the alloy “Invar” for aviation devices.

Merits of Akim Golovin were highly estimated by the Soviet government: during the war he was awarded the Stalin Prize, the honorary title “Honored Scientist and Engineer of USSR”, the Order of Lenin – the highest state award in the Soviet Union. The memorial plaque with Akim Golovin’s image decorates house 68 on March 8 in Ekaterinburg: in this building the outstanding scientist lived from 1926 to 1944. Golovin’s tall figure is on the group portrait of the coryphaei of Urals science in the hallway of the main building of UrFU.

Scientist of world fame

A graduate of the St. Petersburg Mining Institute, Akim Golovin came to the Urals in 1916, to the administration of the Nizhny Tagil Mining District. From 1923, he taught at the Ural State University (later Ural Polytechnic Institute), created and headed the Department of Rolling, trained specialists for the industry, recovering after the Civil War, for the industrial giants of the Urals and Siberia which were under construction. At that time specialists in metal forming for enterprises of the Ural-Siberian region were trained only at Golovin’s department (if in 1930s the department annually produced 15-20 engineers, by the end of the Soviet period the number increased up to 140).

“Akim Golovin was an encyclopedic scientist, the author of the pioneering “energy” theory of metal forming, describing the flow of metal in the processes of rolling and forging. He based his world pioneering theory on the research-inventive approach and physical modeling of rolling and forging of metals and calibration of rolls in rolling mills. In the mid-1930s, the methodology developed by Golovin was presented by him in a three-volume monograph. This was the first printed publication on the theory of rolling in our country,” explains Danil Schwarz, Head of the Department of Metal Forming at UrFU.

Staying ahead of the West

With the death of Akim Golovin and for the next 20 years, the department was headed by Joseph Tarnovsky. In the mid-1950s, there were opportunities to study metal forming processes not only experimentally, but also by applying mathematical modeling. A defining contribution to the creation of these technologies, besides Tarnovsky, was made by outstanding graduates of the department – Nikolay Krasovsky, a future member of the USSR Academy of Sciences, Hero of Socialist Labor, Laureate of the Lenin and State Prizes, holder of the Grand Gold Medal of the Academy of Sciences and Alexander Pozdeev, a Corresponding Member of the Academy.

Pozdeev, with the support of Tarnovsky and Krasovsky, the first in the world developed a methodology for studying the nonuniformity of deformations and the kinematics of metal flow during sagging and rolling. A monograph by Pozdeev and Tarnovsky describing this method – theory and experiments – was published in Oxford. In the Western literature, the approaches developed at UPI are called the top estimate method. Alexander Pozdeev later became head of the Institute of Continuous Media Mechanics at the Ural Scientific Center of the USSR Academy of Sciences.

Another achievement of the scientific school under Joseph Tarnovsky was the research and description of general regularities of plastic friction in various processes of metal forming. For this purpose, special equipment and measuring instruments were created, experiments were conducted, and a mathematical model was written.

“In the early 1960s, well ahead of their Western analogues, specialists of the Ural School of Metal Pressing developed automated systems for designing metallurgical processes, materials and equipment, diagnostic, planning and control procedures. These systems based on advanced management theories, mathematical models and information technologies summarized hundreds of parameters, all cumulative research and production experience, thus making it possible to complement it with the newest scientific and engineering solutions and thus make operative decisions on the human expert level”, says Danil Schwarz.

The deployment of these systems in production has led to a significant reduction in paperwork, significant time savings, improved design documentation, increased production reliability, reduced equipment breakdowns, an expanded range and improved quality of products, and increased productivity.

Technologies of rolling, pressing, drawing, forging, stamping, methods of metal behavior forecasting and equipment calibration, developed by the Ural school of Metal Forming, were introduced at the largest metallurgical and machine-building enterprises of the Soviet Union. They have received not only the USSR copyright certificates, but also patents from USA, Germany, Czechoslovakia, India and Nigeria. The developments of Sverdlovsk scientists found practical application abroad. The department trained dozens of specialists for Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Mongolia, China, and North Korea.

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