Nitrex’s Aurora, Ill., commercial heat-treatment facility is now in the hot-testing phase of its newly installed low-pressure carburizing (LPC) and vacuum system, which is expected to start production in September 2021. The company announced in April 2020 that it was expanding production at its Aurora plant, located just west of Chicago. The investment focused on adding a fourth building on the property to house a new LPC system and secondary heat-treating equipment. According to Nitrex, the installation allows it to perform a wider variety of tool-steel projects.

As Nitrex’s biggest North American carburizing, hardening and carbonitriding facility, the Aurora plant needed to expand its carburizing capacity. The expansion and new equipment aim at increasing production capacity and modernizing the facility’s heat treatments. The new furnace system uses transfer shuttles to maximize the use of the two quench options (oil quench and high-pressure 20-bar gas quench). Advantages of the LPC system include the fact that there is no intergranular oxidation and no surface decarburization. The system’s higher temperatures will lead to shorter cycle times, making the carburizing process faster, more exacting and cost-competitive.