Solar Atmospheres recently installed a 1,500-square-foot climate-controlled room at its Souderton, Pa., facility. It incorporates temperature and humidity controls as well as a slight positive pressure environment in an effort to minimize water vapor and dust/debris in the heat-treating area. In addition, Solar Atmospheres added a brand-new all-metal hot-zone vacuum furnace with an oversized pumping system to the room. An existing furnace will be modified and updated with state-of-the-art controls and added to this new area in early 2015. Two laboratory furnaces currently reside within the room, bringing the total number of furnaces in the area to four.

The furnace, which has the ability to isolate the quench system during the heat cycle, is capable of maintaining a vacuum level of 5 x 10-6 torr or lower and has successfully processed the most sensitive materials unshielded without any surface contamination. The furnace is positioned outside of the area, and only the door protrudes through the wall into the climate-controlled room.