CREMER completes project to develop industry-first 2500°C industrial furnace
August 25, 2020
CREMER Thermoprozessanlagen GmbH, Düren, Germany, has completed its EU-funded CARBIDE2500 project. The project launched in May 2018 and is reported to have met its objectives, developing the first 2500°C industrial furnace, enabling higher efficiency and the production of tungsten carbide with up to five times higher material strength than otherwise possible.
CREMER specialises in pusher furnace systems with graphite coatings which operate at extremely high temperatures, above 2000°C. These systems are used in the carburising process for carbide powders such as tungsten carbide (WC). According to the company, at the time of the project’s launch in 2018, the economic downturn and subsequent recovery in Europe had resulted in increasing demand for higher-strength materials.
Tungsten carbide is used in many different applications across multiple large industrial sectors, including automotive and aerospace manufacturing, construction, surface and underground mining, oil & gas exploration, as well as in many manufacturing industries (including paper, textiles, electronics, etc).
As a result of increasing demand, the company in 2018 expected the global tungsten carbide powder market to grow from €13.6 billion in 2016 to €22.91 billion in 2026, at a compound annual growth rate of 5.4%. Demand for other carbides, such as tantalum carbide or niobium carbide, was also said to be increasing.
Over the course of the project, material tests were conducted by CREMER to compare the properties of tungsten carbide powder (WC) produced using the same input material at 1600°C, 2200°C and 2500°C in the CARBIDE2500 furnace.
The analysis results clearly show the change in particle morphology obtained at 2500°C in comparison to the lower carburization temperatures. The company states that the results show the potential of the plant to produce WC powder with a whole range of characteristics, tuned by selecting the optimum input material and process parameters needed for a specific application. High-quality tungsten carbide powder is not only used to produce hardmetal tools, but is also relevant for AM products as well as coatings, cladding or hardfacing.
The total project cost was reported at €1,331,000, of which the EU contributed €931,700 through its Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.