Achieving Optimum Results in Heat Treatment

05 December 2017

Despite appearances, heat treatment work relies on a scientifically accurate process. Sure, the coarse industrial outlines operating here may suggest otherwise, but don’t be fooled, this is engineering fidelity labouring at the highest level. Just how are those optimised results achieved? The answer is simple. Every step in the process has to be governable. There’s no room for an unpredictable control element here, so where does this controllability factor originate?

Optimally Maintaining the Furnace Atmospheres 

In practically every other industrial process, we ignore the atmosphere. Granted, some of these factories filter the air, or they even opt for a clean room environment, but they don’t control every property in that atmosphere. If heat treatment techniques are to be properly optimized, that atmospheric envelope must be entirely controllable. To that end, the air is sometimes delivered by powerful fans, all the better to ensure uniform heat distribution. Conversely, the air is replaced by an inert gas, such as argon or nitrogen. Sometimes, and this is where the processing methods really take flight, the atmosphere is entirely removed. That’s a principle that’s responsible for the development of vacuum heat treating furnaces.

Intelligently Analyzing Current Operations 

If the processing chain is operating, the facility is spitting out heat treated workpieces. Only, much to the distress of all concerned, there’s a higher than average reject rate. The equipment is functioning, but something is going wrong. Fortunately, a process analyzing stratagem can optimize the hardware and the interconnecting linkages that bridge the hardware stations. For example, a process audit not only calibrates the furnace, it also calibrates the instrumentation that records those thermal envelopes. Residual gases are monitored, identified, and addressed. Leakage models are generated and tested. In short, in-house system audits optimize the heat treatment process.

Employing Applied Detective Services 

In-house engineering departments can track down heat treatment problems, obviously. Alternatively, there are special services whose duty it is to scrutinize the results of an operational heat treatment facility. Those auditing agents focus on atmospheric integrity and heat distribution uniformity. If there’s an unsatisfactory mechanical and material finish, the specialized operative addresses the issue. Metallurgically proficient, the engineers who carry out this auditing service are trained to identify and refine every processing defect.

Finally, when that auditing procedure is concluded, there comes a time when the management team must decide whether an elevated maintenance program will improve the heat treatment results. If not, this is an opportunity to upgrade the equipment, to incorporate a system that vacuum-seals or otherwise controls all of the conflicting process elements impacting the heat treatment cycle.

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