A Few Do’s and Don’ts of Hot Zone (Heat Treatment) Maintenance

31 July 2017

Do’s and don’ts guides are an engineer’s best friend. They’re an objective instruction tool that helps system architects and fabricators to navigate processing minefields. In that regard, hot zone maintenance procedures employ a highly organised sequential approach. That systematic methodology begins with a pre-processing phase, a maintenance checklist that governs the heat treatment operation before a single piece of equipment receives a wisp of ignitable fuel.

Do Manage Preprocessing Work 

A baseline must be established. That baseline starts with metal parts that are clean and blemish-free. The conveyed workpieces are handled with corresponding care, with a level of workpiece-conserving prudence that delivers an absolutely viable initial heat load.

Don’t Accept Soiled Parts

The goal of the heat treatment work is to uniformly alter the microstructure of a metal part, but that uniformity becomes difficult if the part’s exterior is coated with foreign matter. Hot spots form, especially in vacuum furnaces, so don’t allow that part access until it’s thoroughly cleaned.

Do Wash After Sandblasting 

For the most stubborn surface marks, sandblasting is the logical solution. However, that sandy material can’t be allowed into the furnace, not when it’ll affect the production cycle. The furnace will inevitably cook these unwanted particulates and corrupt the stringently monitored process. Wash all traces of this residue away before continuing any further.

Do Maintain a Clean Buffer Zone 

A clean cool area enters the process chain when the parts are ready for the cooling phase of the operation. Emulate that stage by using a clean hot zone, a reserved area that acts as a hot buffer outside of the furnace. In here, certain process variables can be corrected. They include water vapour eviction, material cleanup work, and other hot phase operations. Integrated correctly, the hot buffer zone extends the working life of the vacuum furnace system.

Don’t Forget Transferrable Materials 

Oils and greases enjoy something of a charmed life. They’re absorbed into the hands of workers or conveyed on the part’s carrying equipment. That’s a process reality that negatively impacts heat treatment technology. Conduct a vacuum washing or hydrocarbon rinse, a stringently observed wash stage that targets these oily materials before the workpiece enters the furnace.

Heat treatment environments are undoubtedly classed as industrial sites. Foreign matter accumulates in here. Still, a hot zone maintenance plan must counter that environmental reality. It must systematically eliminate the oils, greases, and particulates before they corrupt a process that relies on a predetermined viability factor. Enforce these Do’s and Don’ts. Better yet, document the maintenance strategy by recording the corrective steps and generating a preventive maintenance program.

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