Aeronautical engineers are consistently searching for new and optimal materials to achieve specific applications throughout an airframe. There are a multitude of considerations affecting the structural design of an aircraft such as the complexity of the load distribution through a redundant structure, the large number of intricate systems required in an airplane and the operating environment of that airframe. All of the above criteria is governed primarily by weight savings. Thus, the optimal materials selected today and for the future of airframes are composite material and titanium.
Solar Atmospheres has established a method of controlling the amount and depth of White layer resulting from Gas Nitriding. This procedure was accomplished following extensive testing using AISI 4140 Steel in a Solar Atmospheres Gas Nitriding Vacuum furnace. Various applications requiring Nitriding often require specific White layer limits which can now be provided by this process. Following an initial rapid pump down to produce an Oxygen free, vacuum environment, the Nitriding cycle consisted of a pre-heat at a partial pressure of Nitrogen followed by Nitriding at a slightly positive pressure using an Ammonia/Nitrogen mixture. Many cycles were performed varying the time and gas flow parameters at temperature and the resulting White layer composition and thickness determined. The key to controlling the White layer formation was the introduction of a Boost-Diffusion technique during the Nitriding phase. Surface hardness and depth of nitride zone were then recorded from microhardness measurements and metallography. All this data was compiled to establish Nitriding procedures that provide the final desired structure in the minimum cycle time. This includes processes that produce the minimum depth or complete absence of White layer as dictated by the final application of the parts.
Results of study of steel carburized at low pressure using a vacuum furnace show no evidence of hydrogen embrittlement, which should relieve any concern of the possibility of such an occurrence in low pressure gas carburizing.
Despite the widespread commercial use of hydrogen, not all of the flammability limits of the gas are known. Experiments were performed to determine hydrogen reaction limits in a partial pressure vacuum to allow the design of a vacuum furnace system having the necessary safeguar
Heat treatment standards are stricter in the aerospace industry than in the medical industry where lives are on the line. This doesn’t make sense and something is being done about it. Recently, I was asked to give a vacuum heat treating presentation to a group of design engineers at a large medical device company. The lead engineer asked if I would help educate his team on this subject primarily because they had just experienced a major failure caused by improper heat treatment. After learning more about the failure, it became evident that the medical device engineers in that room could learn a great deal from the aerospace industry, especially regarding knowledge of aerospace materials and secondary aerospace processes. It also became apparent that an industry-managed oversight program addressing the technical competency required in special processing was necessary in order for medical device companies to improve design and manufacturer of future medical devices.
Currently, nitriding is carried out predominantly in pit type vertical furnaces with metal alloy retorts to hold the work load during the nitriding cycle. The large thermal mass of these furnaces requires long heat-up and cool-down times. Another factor is that the ammonia nitriding gas cracks not only on the work load but on the metal retort too. In time, this leads to non-uniform nitriding of the work, and the retort has to be conditioned before uniform nitriding can be restored. In contrast, the much smaller thermal mass inherent in vacuum furnaces (as well as other features) offers an opportunity of designing a more desirable vacuum furnace for providing efficient uniform nitriding. Such a furnace was designed and developed over several years to replace traditional retort gas nitriding.
Increased usage of refractory metals, titanium and their alloys in the aerospace and electronics industries has led to the use of the hydride/dehydride (HDH) heat treating process for recovery of spent materials. The HDH process has been known for many years in the manufacturing of transition-metal powders.
Furnace insulators are designed to electrically and thermally insulate. When they become coated with metals and carbon from high-temperature processing, their electrical resistance is compromised. This article discusses a technique to restore the insulator to its original purpose.