Additive manufacturing (part of the better-known 3D-printing process) has become a key technology in many industries over the past few years, from manufacturers producing custom aviation components to toy makers who want to offer flexible designs.
The additive-manufacturing (AM) process as a whole involves turning 3-D CAD files on computers into finished products layer by layer –although AM specifically relates to the construction part of that process. What happens after the printing phase has concluded also matters, however, in order to ensure that products are ready for use.
Solar Atmospheres recently installed its sixth all-metal hot-zone vacuum furnace at its facility in Souderton, Pa. This is also Solar’s fourth furnace for its climate-controlled room. The Mentor model, which was built by sister company Solar Manufacturing, has a work zone measuring 12 inches x 12 inches x 18 inches and is the first of its kind. It increases Solar’s capacity for processing sensitive materials – such as PH stainless, nickel-based superalloys, titanium and ferritic/austenitic stainless steels – yet focuses on smaller lots and one-off items.
Most vacuum furnaces currently active in the heat-treating world incorporate some form of, or combination of, graphite-felt insulation, with either a foil or board internal facing in the furnace hot-zone construction. The graphite felt used in high-temperature furnaces is either PAN-based or Rayon-based.
Rex Heat Treat, a commercial heat treater specializing in the aerospace market, became the first company to install and commission SECO/WARWICK’s new Super IQ gas carburizing furnace. The hybrid system combines a conventional furnace and a vacuum furnace in one unit. Rex Heat Treat has commissioned several vacuum furnaces over the past several years at its Lansdale, Pa., location as part of a plant modernization initiative. The new furnace will allow the heat treater to upgrade its through-hardening and carburizing capabilities alongside its legacy harden and temper furnaces while using the existing loader, baskets and washing system.
Despite uncertain market conditions presented by the coronavirus pandemic, Ipsen has been awarded five orders for vacuum furnaces between four customers, each with unique process requirements in the aerospace, defense and commercial heat-treating industries. The furnaces ordered include MetalMaster, TurboTreater and Ipsen’s signature vacuum aluminum brazing furnace. In addition to the five new orders, Ipsen shipped nine furnaces in July to companies across six states in America as well as Canada and the United Kingdom.
Gasbarre Thermal Processing Systems shipped a continuous vacuum furnace with 10-bar pressure-quench capabilities to a North American aerospace manufacturer. The four-position, four-zone furnace is rated to 2400°F. The independent load and quench modules allow the heat module to hold temperature and vacuum, creating an extremely pure environment. Extended heating-element coverage allows for excellent temperature uniformity. Only the workload is cooled in the isolated cooling chamber to increase efficiency. Quick transference from the heat module to the cool module and fast quench capabilities make the furnace suited to process medium- to high-volume parts.
Solar Atmospheres of Western PA (SAWPA) continues to progress in the construction of a 15,000-square-foot addition at its Hermitage, Pa., facility. The expansion will house a vacuum oil-quenching (VOQ) line, which includes a hardening furnace, tempers, washer and charge car. It will be installed and fully operational by the end of 2020.
Ipsen, to ensure it properly addresses the market needs of current and future customers, is establishing Technology Excellence Centers in Germany and the United States while further strengthening its offerings. The company’s equipment manufacturing business will be driven by an Atmosphere Technology Excellence Center in Kleve, Germany, and a Vacuum Technology Excellence Center near Rockford, Ill. This focus into one field of technology will enable faster-paced innovation and quicker response times.
Lincotek Additive completed a state-of-the-art Additive Production Center for medical devices in its Trento, Italy, facility by installing a new high-vacuum furnace and a validated heat-treatment process specifically designed for 3D-printed titanium parts. The project – along with an expansion in lab capabilities – will triple the capacity for thermal treatment at the site.
Solar Atmospheres of Western PA is currently installing a new rapid quenching vacuum furnace that will ultimately eliminate the need for costly helium while increasing production throughput. Solar Manufacturing’s 10-bar vacuum furnace will mimic an older 2-bar furnace in size. However, this new 48-inch x 48-inch x 96-inch 10-bar furnace is equipped with a 600-HP blower designed motor, and it will outperform its older model by processing larger and heavier workloads with the use of nitrogen only.