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Solar Atmospheres Inc.
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New Process Developed to Anneal and Bright Age-Harden PH Stainless Steels
SOUDERTON, Pa.--Solar Atmospheres recently announced that it has developed a two-step heat treat process that uses advanced gas cooling technology to anneal and bright age-harden a variety of precipitation hardenable (PH) stainless steels in a vacuum furnace without "breaking vacuum."
For complete martensitic transformation prior to age hardening, PH stainless steels 17-4 and 15-5 are required to be cooled to below 80 degrees F from the annealing temperature. Similarly, PH stainless steels 13-8 Mo and 17-7 and 15-7 Mo Condition TH 1050 are required to be cooled from the annealing temperature to below 60 degrees F relatively quickly prior to aging. Once PH stainless steel has been exposed to an air environment after annealing, it is notoriously difficult to keep it "bright" or prevent discoloring (oxidizing) to a gold/blue hue during the age hardening step, according to Solar Atmospheres.
However, with Solar Atmospheres' new sophisticated gas cooling technology, PH stainless steels can now be annealed, cooled-down to below 60 degrees F, and age hardened--all under vacuum conditions in a single heat-treat batch, vacuum-furnace process. The result, the company says, is consistently clean, bright, non-discolored parts that meet specification processing and material property requirements.
"Part of our mission at Solar Atmospheres is to continually look forward in the area of technology," says Solar Atmospheres Corporate President Roger Jones. "This innovative development underscores our commitment to continually raising the bar to provide state-of-the-art services. Our annealing customers can rely on consistently clean, bright, non-discolored parts that meet specification processing and material property requirements."
Solar Atmospheres (www.solaratm.com) offers thermal processing services--including brazing, carburizing, and nitriding--that are said to produce bright, scale-free parts with minimal distortion. The company has more than 50 furnaces, ranging from lab sized to what is reported to be the world's largest commercial vacuum furnace. Headquartered near Philadelphia, Solar also operates plants near Pittsburgh and in Fontana, California.
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