Practical recommendations are offered to handle operational issues that can arise with vacuum systems used in heat treating to optimize performance, reliability and safety.
The application of vacuum in industrial processes is widespread with the heat treating industry using vacuum in a broad range of processes, many of which place particular demands on the vacuum pumps. Today, there are many types of vacuum pumps available, from traditional oil-sealed rotary vane pumps to the so called "dry" pumps developed for use in the semiconductor industry, and which have found their way into industrial processes. As well as a choice of pumping technologies, a range of installation and configuration possibilities have arisen to ensure that pumps operating in difficult applications have the best chance to provide a reliable, consistent and cost-effective vacuum solution. Pumping-system configuration can be just as important as the selection of the pump technology itself, and making what may appear to be small changes in configuration can make significant improvements to vacuum pump reliability and reduce intervention. This article is intended to provide the practical means to enhance vacuum pump performance and reliability for a range of vacuum heat treating processes.