The question is frequently asked, “Do we buy new or do we only buy used?” There are many pros and cons to this age-old query. It simply is a question that can only be answered by the individual who is considering purchasing the proposed equipment.

Used Furnaces

The obvious difference between a new and used furnace is the fact that it has been used for other process techniques. There is also a significant price advantage in purchasing used equipment. The furnace is usually purchased as is, however, and where is. Sometimes the equipment can be purchased with limited guarantees of performance but not in all cases. It will further depend on the source of the equipment. Was it purchased at an auction where the operating facility had ceased operation? Was it purchased from a company who found that the equipment was surplus to their requirements, or perhaps they replaced that particular furnace with a new piece of equipment?

The significant advantage of buying used equipment is that it is usually available immediately, as opposed to new equipment, which can take up to one year to manufacture. This means that the used piece of equipment has the potential to display a return on investment (ROI) very quickly as compared to new.

The risk is, of course, you pay your money, and you take a chance. Most of the used furnace suppliers are genuine and decent business people. In most cases, problems that might occur are usually very amicably resolved.

The same conditions apply to the used equipment as applies to the new equipment. The installation site should be accessible and available to receive the equipment.


The transportation for a used furnace (and even a new furnace) is a critical part of the relocation operation. It is strongly advised that the refractory brickwork within the furnace process chamber is supported and shored up with wood bracings to prevent the collapse of the furnace roof, particularly if the furnace is refractory-brick lined. It is further recommended that the transportation vehicle be an air-ride vehicle to minimize transportation jolts from the roadway.

Great care must be taken when loading the equipment on and off the transportation vehicle, and care must be taken when the equipment arrives at the installation site.

Laboratory Equipment

Generally (but not in all cases), the driving force behind the consideration of new and used metallurgical laboratory equipment is the cost of investment. When one considers, for example, the principles of microscopy, it can be seen that they have not changed since Leonardo da Vinci’s times. What has changed, of course, are the bells and whistles on a microscope and the capturing of the image.

This similarly applies to the microhardness tester. With the microhardness tester, the general changes are seen in the load application and the X-Y table. With new equipment, a high degree of indentation-image capturing and transverse hardness-profile plotting has occurred.

If one can live with basic equipment and basic transverse hardness profiles, then good used equipment can suffice. Further, it will depend upon the number of samples that need to be tested per day. This will also apply to the sample cutting, mounting, pre-grind and polish operations. Sometimes, a single wheel for pre-grind and polish will suffice. When the sample numbers reach double digits per hour or per day, however, the more up-to-date and multiple-station equipment should be considered.

But in reality it still comes down to consideration of:
  • Sample quality requirements
  • Metallurgical and mechanical results (hardness values)
  • The quality of resulting metallurgical pictures