Solar Atmospheres of Western PA says goodbye to helium

Solar Atmospheres is replacing a two-bar furnace with a new 10-bar furnace to process larger and heavier workloads with the use of nitrogen only. (Courtesy: Solar Atmospheres)

Solar Atmospheres of Western PA is currently installing a new rapid quenching vacuum furnace that will ultimately eliminate the need for costly helium while increasing production throughput.

Solar Manufacturing’s 10-bar vacuum furnace, with a revolutionary cooling design, will mimic an older two-bar Solar furnace in size. However, this new 48” x 48” x 96” deep 10-bar furnace is equipped with a proven 600 HP blower-designed motor, and it will outperform its older model by processing larger and heavier workloads with the use of nitrogen only.

“The difference in operating costs is a no brainer,” said President Bob Hill. “To marginally harden one 2,000-pound high-speed tool steel roll die in our older two-bar vacuum furnace, the use of light helium gas was a necessity. The prohibitive cost of a two-atmosphere helium backfill was $1,065. Our new furnace will enable us to fully harden three 2,000-pound roll dies at once using the more cost-effective process gas of nitrogen. In contrast, the cost of a 10 atmosphere backfill of nitrogen will be only $89.” Hill predicts that with these increased efficiencies and savings, his normal ROI on a new piece of equipment will be significantly advanced.

Once operational, Hill will author a technical paper with the actual cooling data derived from these similarly sized vacuum furnaces for the world to see.