Make Your Atmosphere Furnace Work for You: Tips of the Trade for Carburizing and Quenching
By Rene Alquicer, Manager - Atmosphere Products; Aymeric Goldsteinas, Product Development Manager; and Craig Moller, Chief Engineer
Throughout the manufacturing process, heat treatment is consistently viewed as a critical step for adding value to the parts produced. A part expensively manufactured by melting, hot rolling or forging, annealing, rough machining, teeth cutting and grinding is essentially useless and of little to no value without heat treatment. In addition, without reliable and repeatable heat treatment, it is impossible to achieve competitive overall manufacturing costs.
Amazingly, the cost for a manufacturing step that adds such a high value is only a fraction of the total production costs - generally in the range of no more than 5%. This percentage, however, increases to roughly 15% of the costs per part if all further post-treatment process steps inherent with, or caused by, heat treatment - such as cleaning, blasting, straightening and/or grinding - are taken into account. Therefore, a noticeable reduction of the manufacturing costs is only possible by minimizing the distortion of parts. For this, all the influencing parameters like steel melting, forming of the parts, uniformity of microstructure and hardenability, as well as the natural factors of the heat treatment process - positioning of the parts in the load, uniformity of heating, carburizing and heat extraction during quenching - need to be analyzed and optimized if one is to continually produce quality parts in batch atmosphere furnaces.
When producing quality parts, we are primarily concerned with properly utilizing the carburizing and quenching processes and applicable modern technology. From optimizing controls and quenching systems to the benefits of establishing temperature and gassing uniformity, here are some tips highlighting how to make the most of your processes and atmosphere furnace.