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Compact Heat Treat Oven for Additive Manufacturing

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In this article you will learn:

  1. What is th difference between heat treat oven and furnace?
  2. Why heat treatment is essential for metal additive manufacturing?
  3. How do residual stresses affect 3D printed models?
  4. What are the benefits of vacuum heat treat oven in improving mechanical properties?
  5. Why are industrial furnaces not practical for metal additive manufacturing?
  6. What are the inFURNER heat treat oven features and benefits?

Why heat treatment is so important?

Heat treatment is a crucial process in metal additive manufacturing that involves the use of industrial furnaces to enhance the mechanical properties and microstructure of metal parts produced via SLM/DMLS/L-PBF printing process. The need for this procedure arises during the printing process, the model’s top layer undergoes tensile stress due to thermal expansion under intense laser radiation. Conversely, the lower layer interface undergoes compressive stresses due to cooling contact with the bulk material. This dynamic leads to stress accumulation, resulting in a stress gradient between the layers. If this residual stress is not removed, it may lead to build failure and plastic deformation. Therefore, 3D printed models necessitate heat-treating prior to their removal from the build platform. Overlooking this step usually results in warping of the geometry of the finished model.

High vacuum heat treating for enhanced mechanical properties

In addition to removing residual stress, heat treatment process has a huge impact on improving material microstructure, and increasing the tensile strength of the finished product. Vacuum heat treating methods are especially beneficial for hardening tool steels and in all instances where the mechanical properties of the final product are important. Furnace temperatures can easily reach more than 1600°C for refractory materials. High Vacuum during the process is also necessary for reactive metals like Titanium that, tend to oxidize in elevated temperature and form titanium dioxide, leading tosignificant deterioration of surface properties, including flaking.

The role of industrial heat treat furnaces

For many years, industrial furnaces have been the standard for commercial heat treating processes in the metal industry. However, in the realm of metal additive manufacturing, using industrial furnaces is not always practical. The problem lies in the fact that these furnaces are primarly designed for full-scale production. High- capacity furnaces are typically much more expensive than the metal printers themselves. Therefore, to address this issue, the inFURNER was developed.

heat treat oven inFurner

Compact high vacuum digital furnace

inFURNER is a compact high vacuum furnace, explicitly designed for metal additive manufacturing. It can achieve temperature up to 1600°C within a chamber diameter up to 200 mm, all contained within a very compact furnace construction. This fully digital furnace offers control via a touch screen and features specifications similar to industrial heat treat furnaces. These features include PID temperature control, the ability to create custom heat treating formulas, door safety switches, and process logging. By offering a compact and affordable heat treat solution, inFURNER elevates the quality of metal parts produced through additive manufacturing processes.

Compact heat-treating oven like inFURNER provides inexpensive heat treat and is a perfect soultion for academies or universities, which need heat treating in-house on a limited space of a laboratory.

Heat treat oven or furnace – what is the difference?

In general, both devices have distinct applications and temperature capabilities. Furnaces reach temperatures that are higher and are commonly used in industrial processes, while ovens operate at lower temperatures in domestic and commercial settings. Furnaces, given their industrial nature, are typically larger, more robust, and utilize specialized fuels or heat sources.

On the other hand, the terms like heat treat oven can be more versatile and inclusive of a broader range of applications. For instance, when describing devices like the inFURNER, it emphasizes compact size and suitability for laboratory settings. Although it may not be a strictly professional industrial terminology, it allows to focus on the function of creating a controlled and isolated environment with a high vacuum level for specific processes such as annealing, brazing, or sintering. Moreover, using the terminology like heat treat oven can make the concept more relatable and understandable, particularly when considering potential language barriers.

Unlock the full potential of metal AM with effective heat treat oven

In summary, heat treat devices are essential in metal additive manufacturing as they help remove residual stress and enhances the mechanical properties and microstructure of the final product. Vacuum heat treat ovens is particularly beneficial in hardening tool steels and titanium as well as in improving the final product’s mechanical properties. However, the use of industrial furnaces for metal additive manufacturing is not always practical due to their design for full-scale production and the associated high cost. Therefore, the development of compact and affordable heat-treating oven like inFURNER is essential to improve the quality of metal parts produced through additive manufacturing processes.

 

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What's more
Metal Additive Manufacturing / 3D Printing 101
Additive Manufacturing is a process of creating objects by adding material layer by layer, in contrast to traditional subtractive methods that remove material from a solid block. Metal Additive Manufacturing specifically involves the use of hard-to-machine metals to produce parts and components using bottom-up approach. This method allows for greater design flexibility, material efficiency, and the production of complex geometries that would be impossible or extremely difficult with conventional manufacturing techniques.
Metal Additive Manufacturing / 3D Printing 101
Additive Manufacturing is a process of creating objects by adding material layer by layer, in contrast to traditional subtractive methods that remove material from a solid block. Metal Additive Manufacturing specifically involves the use of hard-to-machine metals to produce parts and components using bottom-up approach. This method allows for greater design flexibility, material efficiency, and the production of complex geometries that would be impossible or extremely difficult with conventional manufacturing techniques.

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