Nitrex Aurora’s new LPC and vacuum system fully operational in September

Nitrex’s Aurora plant expansion and the new equipment aim at increasing production capacity to the facility and at modernizing its heat treatments. (Courtesy: Nitrex)

Nitrex’s Aurora commercial heat-treat facility is now in the hot testing phase of its newly installed low-pressure carburizing (LPC) and vacuum system, which is expected to start production in September.

In April of 2020, Jason Orosz, president of Nitrex Heat Treating Services, announced that the company was expanding the production at its Aurora plant, located just west of Chicago in Illinois, United States. This investment focused on adding a fourth building on the property to house a new LPC system and secondary heat-treating equipment.

“We had to build and install this during COVID, so it obviously slowed things down,” said Mark Hemsath, (vice president – sales, Americas). These additions will help in solidifying Nitrex’s position in the carburizing and vacuum heat-treatment market in the Chicago area. “This is a significant investment for our Illinois facility and it basically duplicates the system we have in Franklin, Indiana.”

As Nitrex’s biggest carburizing, hardening, and carbonitriding facility among its North American heat-treating service centers, the Aurora plant needed to expand its carburizing capacity, according to Hemsath. This expansion and the new equipment aim at increasing production capacity to the facility and at modernizing its heat treatments in order to make it a world-class vacuum hardening, vacuum carburizing, and quenching facility.

The new furnace system “uses transfer shuttles to maximize the use of the two quench options (oil quench and high-pressure 20-bar gas quench). We have the ability to add many more heating chambers to more than double our capacity easily. This means we can continue to grow quickly with minimal future investment,” said Hemsath.

“We also have good vacuum processing capability in Aurora, and this new installation allows us to perform a wider variety of tool steel projects. Combined with some of the country’s largest nitriding/ferritic nitro-carburizing (FNC) capabilities, Aurora is definitely the showcase of our facilities in North America as a full-service heat treater.”

Some advantages of the LPC system include the fact that there is no intergranular oxidation and no surface decarburization. Also, the system’s higher temperatures will lead to shorter cycle times, making the carburizing process faster, more exacting, and cost competitive, especially for longer term program production parts.