Heat treating is a very important industrial technology, estimated to be a $15-20 billion a year business in the U.S. It is a critical manufacturing technology in nearly every industrial market sector including aerospace, automotive, off highway, rail transportation, chemical and others.
The heat-treating industry is capital intensive because it involves the use of specialized equipment requiring major capital investment, and it also is an energy-intensive industry, which translates to major operating costs. Thermal processing is carried out in a wide variety of heat treating furnaces with their different heating systems and various atmospheres, salt baths, and ovens, each of which has advantages and disadvantages for a particular operation. Heat treating also has a major impact on ancillary industries such as those involving the manufacture of gas, electrical resistance and induction heating systems, process sensors and controllers, furnace atmosphere generation and control, furnace insulation and more.