Author: Donald Jordan, Solar Atmospheres
Originally Published: Heat Treating Progress, September 2009
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.