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What is Vacuum Heat Treatment?
Martin Thomas, The Manufacturing Outlook | Wednesday, July 21, 2021
The vacuum heat treatment method treats tough metal parts while also offering extra benefits like strength and cleanliness to the metal it treats in an environmentally friendly process without adverse side effects.
Fremont, CA: Vacuum heat treatment is a process of hardening metals at very high temperatures without air. It uses a vacuum that has an absolute pressure below the standard atmosphere, creating an uncreative environment. In this method, the metal parts go into a tightly sealed treatment chamber where a vacuum pumping system eliminates as much air as possible so that there is nothing to react with the metal. Then it is heated up to about 2,400°F/1316°C at a controlled rate before reducing the temperature. The time needed for a chemical purging compound to complete its reaction depends on the part's needs and the type of metal it is made from. It can take between three to 24 hours and is monitored by a computer to assure repeatability and uniformity.
Some benefits of vacuum heat treatment are:
• It is an environmentally friendly process of hardening metals.
• The parts do not need further forming.
• It does not have any scaling or discoloration.
• It does not need further cleaning.
This method optimizes the entire metal alloy condition by allowing the surface to be treated evenly, faster cooling process, and maximizes the lifespan and functionality of the alloy.
Applications of Vacuum Heat Treatment
Vacuum heat treatment is used on metal-based super alloys, reactive and refractory materials, and stainless steel of different grades. The method is used for parts that can withstand high heat conditions and other stresses during normal operations, like airplane engines and exhaust parts.
Heat treatment is used in the aerospace industry in aircraft structures where the type of vacuum heat treatment is just as crucial as the aluminum alloy used to build the plane. The type of alloy is important as an aircraft's lifespan relies on the grain structure of the alloy, which consequently depends on the vacuum heat treatment it receives. The type of treatment is vital as it enables a designer to build a plane from higher strength materials that provide better functionality, less repairs, and a longer lifespan.