A pilot model of a new ‘next generation’ sintering furnace commissioned by Höganäs and produced by Eisenmann Thermal Solutions, Bovenden, Germany, is in operation at the Höganäs Tech Center (ATEC)’s newly built laboratory complex in Shanghai, China. The new furnace is said to make it possible to precisely model and compare the sintering processes in conventional conveyor furnaces and the newer high-temperature roller furnaces, and can display a wide range of sintering times and product throughputs at temperatures of up to 1400°C, with the cooling zone being separate from the rest of the workpiece transport system.
One reportedly unique feature of the pilot roller furnace is that the conveying speed is continuously variable and can be precisely adjusted to suit any product specifications. It is said to be the first production facility to have attained homogeneous cooling rates of up to 8 K/s in the component at sintering temperatures of 1250°C. Due to its closed furnace design, it is also said to greatly reduce energy and gas consumption during sintering, with the vacuum system making it possible to save up to 50% of the nitrogen that would normally be used.
The plant reportedly offers highly precise atmospheric controls, achieved using an additional air seal as well as a sophisticated arrangement of connections for gas injection and atmospheric measurement. These features allow for extensive gas analysis and active carbon control.
A number of experts from companies manufacturing sintered parts were recently invited on a tour of the newly built laboratory complex, where Eisenmann’s new furnace was demonstrated. During the tour, Peter Vervoort, Vice President of Product Development & Technology at Eisenmann, gave an introduction to the sintering furnace, while Simon Tan of Höganäs ATEC presented the first production results since its commission.
Tan stated that, with its new sintering laboratory, Höganäs is now able to offer its customers “outstanding capabilities” in process data determination and PM part analysis. Using Eisenmann’s plant technology, he also stated that the laboratory has been able to make distinct improvements to product quality while greatly reducing its operating costs.