LINDE LLC announced a universal atmosphere control system (ACS) for clean and bright oxide-free annealing of steel, stainless steel, copper, bronze, or brass, with high reliability and repeatability. With the HydroFlex™ technology, many annealing tasks can be completed with non-flammable gas mixtures containing less than 5% hydrogen. This contributes to fire-safety standards while optimizing the use of H2 in the process.
Consistent surface quality is important for annealing manufacturing components (structural parts sheet metal, tubing, wire, etc.) Industrial markets for such components include automotive, aerospace and military components, construction, industrial equipment, and electrical systems.
“The HydroFlex ACS can use one or more carrier gases – nitrogen (N2) or argon – to maintain the furnace pressure while a controlled ratio of hydrogen (H2) helps prevent oxidation,” explained Akin Malas, Linde’s head of application technology, Metals & Glass Market.
The uses of atmosphere control go beyond annealing, according to Grzegorz Moroz, program manager for Heat Treatment and Atmospheres. “The HydroFlex control system can help optimize process efficiency and enhance productivity, regardless of whether you are annealing, sintering or brazing copper, steel, stainless steel, bronze or brass,” he said. “First, it contributes to repeatable parts quality. In addition, a bright oxide-free finish means less rework, and a high reliability process means higher productivity.”
Among the performance features of the ACS are its precise control for furnace atmospheres, improved heat transfer performance, and more uniform heat distribution within the chamber, as well as faster cooling rates. The system has an automatic nitrogen-purge capability, and process data can be stored for historical reference.
For use with flammable atmospheres, installation of HydroFlex may include a furnace safety package developed by Linde to satisfy National Fire Protection Association (NFPA 86) “Standard for Ovens and Furnaces.” This furnace safety/protective atmosphere packagge includes a N2 supply system, with integral alarm panel, to purge flammable atmosphere furnaces in emergencies.
Linde offers a variety of advanced gas control technologies and engineering services for heat treatment furnaces, and engineers at Linde Application Technology Centers can develop new gas supply systems for heat treatment processes and improve the control systems of existing processes. Metallography laboratory services include material analyses, scanning electron micrography (SEM), and various hardness tests.