The purpose of this paper is to explain reactions that can occur during a vacuum processing cycle and different methods of preventing these reactions.
In this article, we will highlight some of the essential design requirements needed to provide the proper all-metal furnace for these critical applications.
A presentation by Solar's Don Jordan given at the ASM's Heat Treat 2015 trade show about reducing alpha case on titanium parts when heat treating in a vacuum furnace.
A recent process development test relating to carburizing illustrated the need to better understand the effect of surface emissivity and the proper use of dummy thermocouple test blocks. The testing involved carburizing areas of a partially copper plated alloy steel part. The copper plating covered areas of the part that were not to be carburized. Since the configuration of the part made it impossible to place a thermocouple within the part, a dummy test block made of carbon steel with the approximate same cross-section was used for the process thermocouple without proper consideration of the surface condition of the test block. Using the test block as the control, carburizing was initiated at the proper temperature based on the test block having reached that temperature. At the completion of the test, the part was examined for carburizing results and found in the non-copper plated areas, the depth of the carburized case to be shallow. This indicated that the cycle performed did not initially hold the part long enough at the correct temperature prior to carburizing. This resulted in the conclusion that when using dummy test blocks for controlling process times and temperatures, many factors must be considered including surface emissivity.
Advanced material solutions for fixtures, grids and internal furnace components are available today. They are designed to allow for higher processing temperatures, larger loads, increased production rates, energy savings, and lower overall cycle costs.