L&L receives order for two retort box furnaces for CMC use

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The XLC Series box furnace for ceramic matrix composites. (Courtesy: L&L Special Furnace Co.)

L&L Special Furnace Co., Inc. has received an order for two atmosphere-controlled retort box furnaces used for de-bindering ceramic composite matrix parts (CMC), along with powder metals processing (PM), and hot isostatic processing (HIP).

Initially, CMC and other ceramic matrix components and additive manufactured parts were developed for bullet resistive armor and cloth. These materials were found to be lighter and stronger than some alloy and ceramic substitutes. Additive manufacturing and CMC materials are now becoming more routine and are finding their way into more and more widespread industries.

Aerospace and military have always been the key areas that CMC and additive technologies are applied. The CMC development is a key part of the subsonic ordnance project along with multitudes of other military applications. This technology allows for lighter and more durable aircraft, munitions, and body armor. Automotive has also always had a strong presence in the additive manufacturing industry as well.

It is new application areas where CMC technology is starting to shine. CMC technology is beginning to establish a presence in agricultural applications such as water desalinization, power, and battery technology in providing lighter fuel cells. This technology will be applied to battery operated transportation vehicles, not only improving transportation capabilities but also lowering greenhouse emissions.

The main function of the furnace is to remove all organics and other materials used in the product prior to placing in a high fire vacuum chamber. This de-bindering process is extremely important and allows for a finished product which is a very strong lightweight part.

The model XLC3648 furnace has a work zone of 23” wide by 23” high by 36” deep. The furnace has a single zone of control with a temperature gradient of ±20°F at 1,100°F using four zones of temperature control with biasing to balance any temperature gradients.

The furnace is constructed of low mass insulating firebrick which allows for quicker cool down times. The furnace has a Venturi cooling blower which also aids in cooling. The furnace is controlled by a Eurotherm program control with overtemperature protection. There is also a programmable flow panel to control the nitrogen flow throughout the process.

The parts are heated to 1,220°F in a retort chamber that is pressurized with nitrogen. The by-products of the outgassing part are directed by pressure and flow out the rear of the furnace. The parts are then heated in a vacuum furnace to temperatures in excess of 2,300°F. The result is a super strong component which is stronger and lighter than titanium.

All L&L Special Furnace Co., Inc.’s furnace can be configured with various options and be specifically tailored to meet your thermal needs. L&L also offers furnaces equipped with pyrometry packages to meet ASM2750.

Options include a variety of control and recorder configurations. A three-day, all-inclusive startup service is included with each system within the continental US and Canada. International startup and training service is available by factory quote.

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