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Vacuum Furnace Technology column by Dan Herring, Metallography column by George Vander Voort, Vacuum Brazing column by Dan Kay, Vacuum Pump column by Howard Tring and other Educational Resources

Compact horizontal vacuum furnace designs provide great flexibility, excellent performance and ease of operation for general heat treating and brazing applications to deliver value to commercial and in-house heat treaters alike.

CLICK HERE for Standard Furnace Sizes

vacuum-furnace-35The standard VAH Series Horizontal, Front-loading, Vacuum Heat Treating and Brazing Furnace can be customized to suit unique applications such as high pressure gas quenching, high temperature heat treating, ultra-clean processing and more.

The furnace is designed to have fast heating rates to very uniform temperatures at high vacuum levels. Standard units are equipped with a gas quench system capable of cooling the load rapidly from processing temperatures at quench pressures up to two bar.

Advanced microprocessor controls are used exclusively to ensure precise control and repeatability. VAC AERO control systems can be integrated with internal networks and offer extensive data collection capabilities. VAC AERO also manufactures auxiliary equipment for quench gas storage and furnace cooling requirements.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW OUR VACUUM FURNACE PRODUCTION SPECIFICATIONS

VAC AERO Vacuum Gas Quench Furnace features and capabilities include:

  • Operating temperatures up to 2400°F (1315°C).
  • Ultimate vacuum levels in the 10-6 torr range.
  • Modular hot zone design for easy maintenance.
  • All-metal hot zones are available for ultra-high vacuum processing.
  • Alternatively, economical graphite-based insulation provides extended durability.
  • Heating elements available in lightweight curved graphite or molybdenum strip.
  • Selectable gas quench pressures from 2 bar to 10 bar.
  • Fully automated control systems including PC-based controls with remote access.
  • Optional convection heating capability.

STANDARD OPERATING TEMPERATURE RANGE: 1000°F - 2400°F (538°C - 1315°C)

TEMPERATURE UNIFORMITY: Meets or Exceeds AMS 2750 Requirements.


HOT ZONE:

VAC AERO hot zones have unitized construction for easy removal and maintenance. Lightweight design with low thermal mass and inertia for faster quenching and long life.

  • Work Load Size: Standard sizes from small laboratory units up to 54” wide x 54” high x 72” deep. Larger models available.
  • Heating Elements: Customer’s choice of lightweight curved graphite, pure or lanthanated molybdenum strip.
  • Hearth: Constructed with quickly removable hearth rails of pure molybdenum designed to support uniformly distributed loads of up to 4000 lbs at 2400°F.

carbon_hot_zone.gifRadiation Shields: (Graphite-based Construction):

The standard graphite-based insulation package consists of three layers of carbon felt with an inner facing of graphite foil bonded carbon composite for added protection and enhanced reflectivity. The heat shield package is supported by a stainless steel assembly that also acts as a manifold to distribute the quenching gas uniformly throughout the workload.

Radiation Shields (All-Metal Construction):

For ultra-clean processing applications, VAC AERO also offers an all-metal hot zone construction. The standard all-metal insulation package consists of two layers of pure molybdenum sheet backed by three layers of stainless steel sheet. The heat shield package is supported by a stainless steel assembly that also acts as a manifold to distribute the quenching gas uniformly throughout the workload.

FURNACE CHAMBER:

The chamber and heads are a double-wall water-cooled design, primed and painted the customer's choice of colour. The chamber is equipped with all necessary thermocouple jacks, gauge ports, pumping ports and gas quench entries conveniently located for easy access. A powered rotary clamping system is used to secure the bottom head during processing. All VAC AERO VAH Series furnaces come with a manually operated load dolly as standard equipment.

VACUUM PUMPING SYSTEM:

The vacuum pumpdown is automatic and interlocked. The VAC AERO design uses a holding pump to maintain a low pressure on the diffusion pump foreline at all times. This feature, combined with proper timed sequencing of vacuum valves, virtually eliminates backstreaming of pump oils.

  • Mechanical Pump: Roughing Pump and Booster combination appropriately sized for furnace volume.
  • Diffusion Pump: Varian series complete with charge of Dow Corning fluid.
  • Holding Pump: Rotary vane pump.
  • Main, Roughing and Foreline Valves: Right angle poppet valve with electro-pneumatic operation.
  • Partial Pressure Capabilities: The furnace can be operated at partial pressures up to 1 torr (1000 microns) of inert gas (argon or nitrogen, whichever is used for quenching). Failsafe hydrogen partial pressure systems are also available.

GAS QUENCH SYSTEM:

VAC AERO’s IG Series Quench Gas Storage Systems are available as an option.

External recirculating inert gas quenching system distributes quench gas through circumferentially located internal nozzles for rapid, uniform cooling of the work load. The system includes:

  • Quench blower powered by electric motor with soft start.
  • Special high efficiency tube/fin heat exchanger.
  • Complete quench piping.
  • Selectable operating pressure.

hardwarealarms_vah.gifPROCESS CONTROLS with SCADA:

The VAC AERO control system is programmable and logic based. The design philosophy of VAC AERO is to simplify control by using the program capabilities to perform as many functions as possible, thereby reducing operator dependence. VAC AERO has also chosen proven hardware components, suitably hardened for an "industrial shop" environment. The system uses a state-of-the-art Hybrid controller to control the machine functions and furnace temperature. The controller integrates with software running on a personal computer to provide Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA). Operator interface is provided though an LCD touch-screen mounted in a control panel. An extensive range of standard displays is available.

The key benefits of this system are:

  • Compatible with plant wide SCADA and network integration.
  • Process cycle validation.
  • Extensive alarm and event management and reporting.
  • Temperature control using advanced algorithms, auto tuning, and multiple PID loops.
  • Operator sign-on/sign-off security provides up to 255 control levels to limit operator control of individual items of plant and equipment.
  • Enhanced maintenance and troubleshooting management and trending.

Vacuum Instrumentation: A Vacuum Gauge Controller with 2 station, thermocouple gauge and 1 station Penning (cold cathode) gauge is used to monitor the chamber and the pumping system. This instrument is integrated with the process controller to provide dedicated setpoints that control all critical vacuum-related process functions.

Overtemperature Safety Controller: Digital manual set 0°F - 3100°F, Type S.

Power Supply: The heating element power is supplied by an A.C. water cooled power supply containing single phase VRT assemblies. Each VRT has a 0 – 100% trim control for optimum temperature uniformity in the hot zone.

FURNACE COOLING SYSTEM:

Furnace water system consists of a compact manifold containing all necessary pressure regulators, valves, pressure switches and flow regulators with supply and drain hoses and fittings. As an option, VAC AERO can provide a Dual Loop Cooling System to supply coolant to the furnace.

INSTALLATION AND START UP ASSISTANCE

The system is shipped complete, tested and ready for installation. VAC AERO offers installation supervision or complete installation services. After installation, a qualified VAC AERO technician will visit the site to commission the equipment and provide instruction in furnace operation. As part of every furnace contract, VAC AERO also provides pre-delivery training in heat treating processes furnace operation and maintenance.

pdf_fileicon.gifDowload VAH series Furnace Specifications

pdf_fileicon.gifDowload VAH series Auxiliary System Product Sheet

 
 

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VAC AERO News, Education & Training

4 hot zone orderVAC AERO Hot Zones: Efficiency, Durability, Ease of Maintenance

Apart from building hot zones for its new furnaces VAC AERO specializes in hot zone repair or replacement for all major brands of vacuum furnaces. Replacement hot zones are constructed using state of the art manufacturing technology and materials for years of reliable service. Both graphite-based and all-metal heat shield construction is available. All hot zone materials and new designs are fully tested in our own heat treating facilities before being offered to our customers. VAC AERO’s graphite-based hot zone designs continue to perform reliably under the most demanding thermal processing conditions. The insulation package for every VAC AERO hot zone is mounted on a stainless steel support ring. Whether it’s standard or custom hot zone rebuild for VAC AERO or any other major brand of vacuum furnace, our aftermarket specialists can provide you with a variety of replacement hot zones designed to meet your specific thermal processing applications!

Vacuum Technology with "The Heat Treat Doctor"

Fig 3 nlThe Fundamentals of Vacuum Theory – Part 1

As in any discipline, understanding the underlying scientific principles has profound practical implications when properly understood. In this series of articles we will review the first principles of vacuum technology and explain them using real world illustrations. Most industrial vacuum systems can, in broad based terms, be categorized in terms of low (i.e., “soft”), medium, high (i.e., “hard”) and ultra-high vacuum (Table 1). These ranges are very useful in describing the various pressure, flow, and other phenomenon encountered, which leads to a better understanding of vacuum pump selection and operation, and system operational requirements at the different vacuum levels. As shown by the difference in pressure from low to ultra-high vacuum, industrial vacuum systems must operate under an extremely wide range of pressure.

Vacuum Brazing with Dan Kay

vacuum furnacesEutectics – the good and the bad!

The word “eutectic” is one that I use in each of my brazing seminars during our discussions about brazing filler metals (BFMs) as well as metallurgical phase-diagrams, but it is also a word used in describing some of the features of metallurgical-structures within a solidified brazed joint. The word “eutectic” comes from the Greek word “eutektos” which means “easily melted”. Simply put, a eutectic-composition is an alloy of two or more metals, which, when heated to its melting point (solidus temp.), will completely change from solid to liquid at the same temperature (i.e., isothermally). Technically, theoreticians prefer to define a eutectic-reaction in reverse, proceeding from the molten state to the solid. However, I believe my description will help personnel in the brazing world grasp the general concept more easily.

Metallography with George Vander Voort

vacuum furnaceRevealing the Microstructure of Tool Steels

After we have properly prepared our tool steel specimens, it is generally best to examine them as-polished before etching – unless we are simply doing a routine test, for depth of decarburization, degree of spheroidization, and so forth. Examination of selectively etched tool steel microstructures by light microscopy provides more information than standard etchants, such as nital, picral or Vilella’s reagent. Further, the images are more suitable for quantitative measurements, especially by image analysis. Specimens must be properly prepared, damage free, if selective etchants, or color etchants, are to be applied successfully. A number of etchants have been claimed to selectively etch certain carbides in tool steels. The response of these etchants has been evaluated using a variety of well-characterized tool steel compositions.

Vacuum Pump Practice with Dan Herring

fig 1 nlRoots Blowers (aka Booster Pumps)

Booster pumps (aka Roots blowers or intermediate stage vacuum pumps) fall into the class of dry, gas transfer pumps. As a dry pump, they do not introduce oil or water into the pumped gas stream. Gas transfer is accomplished by mechanically means, that is the transfer of pumped gas molecules, rather than their collection, as with, foe example, cryogenic or turbomolecular pumps. The words “Roots blower” are synonymous with these pumps and the reason they are also commonly referred to as booster pumps is that they are mounted at the inlet of a primary/backing pump (such as a rotary vane, claw pump, or screw pump). They "boost" the performance of the primary pump improving pumpdown speed (much as a relay race in which the baton is passed from one runner to the next). The combination of Root blower and primary pump provides roughly a seven-fold increase in pumping speed and a ten-fold increase in pressure, in comparison to a primary pump alone.

Front and Bottom Loading Vacuum Furnaces

vacuum heat treating furnacesConstructed of the finest materials and craftsmanship, VAC AERO’s high performance vacuum heat treating furnaces are operator friendly and designed to minimize maintenance and downtime to deliver outstanding quality and  value to commercial and in-house heat treaters alike. VAC AERO’s vacuum furnaces are designed for rapid heating rates to very uniform temperatures at high vacuum levels and can be customized to suit unique applications such as high pressure gas quenching, high temperature heat treating, ultra-clean processing and more. VAC AERO’s high efficiency hot zones are designed for easy maintenance and reduced energy consumption and an external quench system allows for easy maintenance of the heat exchanger and quench motor. A high efficiency blower and motor combine fast cycle times and quenching speeds to provide uniform gas distribution and superior cooling performance from processing temperatures at pressures of up to 10 bar.

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