Vacuum Sintering Furnace Delivering Bright, Clean Parts at Significant Cost SavingsJanuary 4, 2022
Solar Atmospheres of Western PA reports impressive results after more than a month of production of a vacuum furnace used in a new metal injection molding and additive manufacturing (AM) binder-removal technology application. The furnace retrofit took place in 2021—the project’s goal: Build a vacuum sintering furnace with a new innovative hot zone and pumping technology that would minimize and target the deposit of detrimental binders evaporating out of MIM and AM parts. Thus far the furnace has produced multiple high-temperature sintering cycles.
The hot zone, after repeated 2400 F sintering cycles, remains “immaculately clean,” according to company officials, as problematic binders coalesced exactly where they were targeted to consolidate, within a separate heated pumping port while keeping the primary pump and booster uncontaminated. Importantly, the officials offer, the customer reported that sintered parts processed in this new furnace were extremely bright and met their critical density and dimensional requirements.
The anticipated maintenance savings on this dedicated furnace, versus processing sintering and AM work with binders in a traditional vacuum furnace, reportedly will be considerable. Processing this job in a conventional vacuum furnace required a scheduled monthly shutdown. Solar’s maintenance team had to extract the hot zone, replace the ceramics, clean or replace the power feed through terminals, scrape the cold walls, clean the diffusion pumps, and scour all the pumping system pipes. The added labor and material costs coupled with the lost production time and degradation on the life of the hot zone cost the company more than $180,000 annually. Projected maintenance costs on this newly designed sintering furnace are $10,000/yr.
See also: Solar Atmospheres
Technologies: Post Processing