Common Types of Furnaces Used in Heat Treatment Processes

13 April 2023

Heat treatment is a process that major industries use today in generating different parts and products. Mostly used in metals, this process can easily alter the physical properties of the materials. It can even change the chemical composition of the materials. Some properties that heat treatment can change are ductility, hardness, wear resistance, elasticity, and toughness.

This process, however, can only provide the alteration needed by industries once manufacturers have secured the right tools and equipment pieces. One of the tools that manufacturers must use in heat-treating metal workpieces is furnaces. Furnaces are often utilised to effectively heat and then cool workpieces to achieve properties that manufacturers have specified.

Many types of furnaces can be used in heat treatment processes. They can be categorised based on the positioning of the workloads as well as how they interact with the interior atmosphere. Some types of furnaces that are used in heat-treating workpieces are as follows.

Batch Furnaces

Batch furnaces can process different metal workpieces for long periods of time. The work charge with these furnaces remains stationary, ensuring that interactions with changes in their atmosphere can be carried out in near-equilibrium conditions. Varying types of batch furnaces can be used by manufacturers. These types include bell furnaces, box furnaces, fluidised bed furnaces, pit furnaces, and salt pot furnaces. Integral quench furnaces, in particular, are common batch furnaces that can perform case hardening to metal workpieces.

Continuous Furnaces

Continuous furnaces, alternatively, often work by allowing the workpieces to move in specific manners while the environment surrounding them changes. Some common types of continuous furnaces that manufacturers take advantage of include mesh belt furnaces, rotary drum furnaces, humpback furnaces, vacuum furnaces, and walking beam furnaces. One common type of continuous furnace today is the pusher furnace. This type of continuous furnace can be effective in carrying out hardening, stress relieving, annealing, and carburising.

Atmosphere Furnaces 

Atmosphere furnaces take advantage of a protective atmosphere to surround the workpieces whenever they are heated and cooled. When picking the volume of the protective atmosphere, manufacturers have to consider the type and size of the furnace, the presence or absence of doors or curtains, the environment, size, loading, and nature of the work.

By picking the right atmosphere furnaces, the success of a heat treatment process can be achieved. The atmospheres used in heat treatment, after all, intend to protect the workpieces from surface reactions and allow their surfaces to change or be chemically active or reactive.

Vacuum Furnaces

Vacuum furnaces can be designed based on the size of the workpiece, the pressure and temperature to be attained, and the medium that will be used in cooling the workpieces. And during heat treatment, they should be able to control the temperature and vacuum level optimally to process workpieces optimally. Some parts of vacuum furnaces are the vessel, the pumping system, the hot zone, and the cooling system. These furnaces can be effective in carrying out annealing, sintering, brazing, and other similar heat treatment processes.

Many more furnaces can be used in heat treatment processes. However, the furnaces listed above are some of the most common elements used by manufacturers today.

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