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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.

VAC AERO Vacuum Gas Quench Furnace features and capabilities include:

  • Operating temperatures to 2600°F (1425°C) and higher.
  • 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 and higher.
  • 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

vacuum-heat-treatVAC AERO’s Furnace Control System is Versatile and Operator-Friendly!

VAC AERO uses the Honeywell HC900 Hybrid controller to regulate machine functions and thermal cycles. The HC900 is integrated with Honeywell Experion Vista software to provide Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) using a large color touch screen LCD for operator interface. VAC AERO’s programmable, logic based control system is comprised of proven hardware components, suitably hardened for an "industrial shop" environment and optimized to cover all normal operating and alarm conditions. Process information is accessible by operators and across a company’s network for process engineers, allowing control and monitoring for higher productivity, reduced costs and increased quality. For more information on VAC AERO Furnace Controls Systems CLICK HERE.

Vacuum Technology with "The Heat Treat Doctor"

vacuum-furnaceMaintenance of Vacuum Furnaces - Part One

Knowledge of vapor pressure and rates of evaporation of various materials is valuable information for those operating vacuum furnaces, whether we are heat treating or brazing at high temperature and low vacuum levels or dealing with outgassing at very low temperatures and pressures. When we think about a solid or liquid in a sealed vessel, we find that, even at room temperature and atmospheric pressure, there are molecules that leave the surface and go into the gaseous phase. The gas phase thus formed is called a vapor. The process of forming a vapor is known as evaporation and the rate of evaporation is determined by the temperature of the substance involved. In time, some of the evaporated molecules will, in all likelihood in the course of random movement, strike and stick to the surface of the vessel.

Vacuum Brazing with Dan Kay

vacuum furnaces800°F, 840°F, 450°C -- Which temperature defines brazing?

Over the years, several different temperatures have been used to define the concept of brazing. When the American Welding Society (AWS) published its first Brazing manual back in 1955, brazing was officially defined using 800F as the liquidus temperature of a brazing filler metal (BFM), above which temperature a joining process using that BFM would be defined as “brazing” (see Fig. 1). If the liquidus temperature of the filler metal was lower than 800°F, a joining process using such a filler metal would be called “soldering”. First of all then, let’s define what we mean by the “liquidus” temperature of a BFM. When any BFM is heated, it will reach a temperature at which it will start to melt. Below that temperature the BFM will remain solid, but once it crosses that temperature it will start to melt.

Metallography with George Vander Voort

vacuum furnaceDifficulties Using Standard Chart Methods for Rating Non-Metallic Inclusions

Over the years, ASTM Committee E-4 on Metallography has conducted interlaboratory test programs to evaluate the precision and bias associated with measurements of microstructure using proposed and existing test methods. ASTM decided in the late 1970s that all test methods that generated numerical data must have a precision and bias section defining the repeatability and reproducibility of the method. Defining bias associated with a test method is difficult unless there is an absolute known value for the quantity being measured and this is not possible when microstructural features are being measured. This paper shows the results for an interlaboratory test using Method A, “worst field” ratings of inclusions in steels by ASTM E-45.

Vacuum Pump Practice with Howard Tring

vacuum-furnacesInlet Filters for Mechanical Vacuum Pumps

This article discusses inlet filters that are used on oil sealed mechanical medium vacuum pumps such as rotary vane and rotary piston pumps typically used on vacuum furnaces and, for smaller pumps used for many laboratory and light industrial applications. One of the downsides of any trap is that it will eventually require servicing. Many vacuum system operators prefer not to use traps for that reason. If the correct traps are used and maintenance is planned, the downtime and service costs can be kept in line. Inlet filters for small mechanical vacuum pumps; there are four types of inlet filters used on vacuum pumps used in laboratories and in light industrial applications: Foreline traps, Catchpots, Dust traps and Vapor traps.

Front and Bottom Loading Vacuum Furnaces

vacuum heat treating furnacesVAC AERO offers complete turnkey services, including planning, designing, building and installation of vacuum furnace systems and controls. VAC AERO’s experience, proven through decades of service in commercial heat treating, has provided us with valuable insight into the changing needs and rigorous demands of our furnace customers. As a result, VAC AERO has developed a keen understanding of the design and performance of vacuum furnace systems built to meet the most stringent requirements for reliability. VAC AERO’s vacuum furnace design innovations are thoroughly tested in our own heat treating facilities before being offered to our customers. That means better quality, reliability and efficiency to maximize uptime and productivity. Horizontal vacuum models provide great flexibility for general heat treating and brazing applications and Vertical bottom-loading models are ideal for processing large circular and/or long parts.

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