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Vacuum Furnace Systems, controls and Manufacturing
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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

Vertical vacuum furnaces combine fast cycle times and quenching speeds to provide better uniformity of large production parts with complex geometries and are ideal for processing large circular parts such as rings, stators or engine casings and long parts like shafts or rolls.

CLICK HERE  for Standard Furnaces Sizes

vacuum-furnace-v350The standard VAV Series Vertical, Bottom-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 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 up to 84” diameter x 84" high. Larger models are also 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 up to 4000 lbs at 2400°F.

    vert_hot_zone-3.gifRadiation Shields: (Graphite-based Construction):

    The standard graphite-based insulation package consists of three layers of carbon felt with a 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. The tank assembly is vertically aligned with a bottom opening load head. The bottom head and the load are raised and lowered smoothly by a constant speed, ball screw driven lifting jack. Once lowered, the bottom head rolls out from beneath the furnace by means of a powered drive assembly to allow 360° access to the load. The tank is equipped with a powered rotary clamping system to secure the bottom head during processing. A "ground fault" system is used to detect if the load or fixtures touch the heating elements during loading or unloading and will stop the elevator to prevent damage.

    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 electropneumatic 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.

    vertical_hardwarealarms.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.gifDownload VAV Series Furnace Specs

    pdf_fileicon.gifDownload VAV series Auxiliary System Product Sheet

     

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    VAC AERO News, Education & Training

    4-hot-zone-orderVAC AERO Ships a Four Hot Zone Replacement Order

    VAC Burlington, Ontario, November 18, 2014 - VAC AERO has recently shipped four complete replacement hot zones for various sized furnaces to be delivered to a North American manufacturer. The hot zones feature unitized construction for easy removal and maintenance. The lightweight design’s low thermal mass enables faster quenching and longer life. The heat shield package consists of three layers of half inch thick graphite felt and an inner reflective layer of graphoil bonded carbon composite that provides added protection and enhanced reflectivity. The graphite felt does not shrink which minimizes heat leakage and contributes to stable uniformity throughout its useful life. The heat shield package is supported by a 14 ga. stainless steel assembly that uniformly distributes the quenching gas to the workload. Some ongoing improvements on VAC AERO’s hot zones include improved durability, thermal efficiency and extended hot zone life.

    Vacuum Technology with "The Heat Treat Doctor"

    dan-herringMaintenance of Vacuum Furnaces - Part Two

    We continue our discussion on the maintenance of vacuum furnaces. Part One talked about establishing a sound maintenance strategy and once this has been determined, the real maintenance work can begin. Let’s talk about the specifics on what, when, how and why we maintain certain critical components on our vacuum furnaces. Vacuum furnaces come in all shapes and sizes and have many common features and operational/maintenance needs. However, it is important to understand the particular needs of the vacuum furnaces in your shop to have an effective maintenance program. When performing maintenance it is important to have a written plan defining the specific task to be performed, and the reason why a particular task is necessary. A work order should be issued and the work signed off upon completion (which includes testing to ensure that the repair was successful).

    Vacuum Brazing with Dan Kay

    dan-kayVacuum Brazing: “Braze with the Weakest Vacuum You Can Get Away With”.

    There are many vacuum-brazing shops out there that still believe it is necessary to try to use the strongest vacuum possible for brazing if they expect to get good results. Such thinking is erroneous, and has led many shops to actually see “worse” results (increased void content of joints, increased discoloration on furnace walls, etc.) than they would have seen if they had merely used a “weaker” (less strong) vacuum. Many people today still like to use some of the older vacuum terminology, such as "soft vacuum", "rough vacuum", "hard vacuum", etc., and some of those same people still believe that a “very hard vacuum” is always necessary for effective brazing.

    Metallography with George Vander Voort

    george-vander-voortDelineation and Measurement of Grain Size by EBSD

    Grain size can be measured after detecting the grains, and removing twin boundaries in face-centered cubic (FCC) metals, using electron backscattered diffraction (EBSD) with the SEM. For metals with annealing twins, or where it is difficult to reveal by etching a high percentage of the grain boundaries, EBSD provides advantages over the traditional light optical microscopy (LOM) approach described in ASTM E 112. Specimen preparation for EBSD must remove all damage from the preparation process and leave the surface very flat. Specimens are studied as-polished, not etched. One or more representative fields are scanned, pixel by pixel, developing a diffraction pattern at each pixel position.

    Vacuum Pump Practice with Howard Tring

    howard-tringLooking after Mechanical Vacuum Pumps

    This article is written for vacuum pumps such as the oil sealed rotary piston pumps used on many heat treating and vacuum furnace applications. The same information would also apply to the oil diffusion holding pump if it is used. This pump may be either a vee belt driven pump or a direct drive pump. The holding pump is used to keep the oil diffusion pump evacuated below the critical backing pressure when the main pump is in roughing mode. All mechanical vacuum pumps need maintenance and the pump manufacturer usually lists the basic checks needed in the pump operation manual.  This will vary with the application that the pump is used on but, at a minimum, will include the following: check oil level daily or weekly, depending on the application and use, change oil and check the shaft seal area for leaks every 6 months and inspect the exhaust valves and gas ballast valve seals every 12 months.

    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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