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Requirements for structural materials increase permanently requiring continuously new characteristics. The properties of metal-based materials are to a large extent determined by the heat treatment they are subjected to. This refers to a process where the work pieces are heated and cooled down again according to a certain time-temperature curve in order to obtain optimised material properties. These thermal and/or thermochemical influences lead to structural changes that affect the tensile strength, toughness, machinability and homogeneity of the metal, making it possible to improve the material properties. In addition, the lifespan of the components is extended, optimising the cost-benefit ratio.
Pankl Racing Systems has one of the most innovative heat treatment facilities available on the market. Our modular vacuum heat treatment system is fully automated and multifunctional, with three treatment chambers that are supported by a preheating furnace.
All thermal and/or thermochemical heat treatment processes may be performed simultaneously, at temperatures of up to 1200°C. Using quench gases such as nitrogen, high pressure and high flow speeds, components are hardened evenly and with a high level of process reliability. The unit allows for a wide range of heat treatment processes, all of them customised to suit the component and material in question.
Vacuum hardening is a highly efficient, environmental-friendly hardening process for warp-sensitive, complex precision components that require clean and smooth surfaces. The quenching process is performed through a stream of gas with overpressure that varies depending on the required component characteristics.
Customers may choose between different hardening processes, from tempering to a range of annealing processes all the way to solution annealing and quenching. Basically it is possible to treat all materials that are suitable for gas quenching. The highest possible precision, minimal reworking and tightest tolerances are our primary goals at all times.
A special type of vacuum hardening and at the same time one of the most innovative heat treatment processes is vacuum case hardening (low-pressure carburising, LPC). In this process components are carburised for surface layer hardening and cooled down under high pressure with nitrogen. The intensity of the cooling step varies according to the component requirements. This process is comparatively fast, with tight tolerances and minimal warping.
Nitrogen hardening is another innovative heat treatment system to obtain higher hardness levels for stainless steels and it is becoming increasingly popular compared to traditional processes. Unlike with case hardening, during nitrogen hardening the surface layers of the work piece are not enriched with carbon, but with nitrogen, which, in connection with iron and other alloys, creates extremely wear-resistant compounds. As an alloy element, nitrogen has a similar effect to carbon when it comes to hardening steel. In stabilising the austenitic structure, it works like nickel, and, like chromium and molybdenum, it also increases the corrosion resistance of the steel. Pankl guarantees consistent, even results with nitrogen hardening even with sharp edges and chamfers as well as tight, deep drilling holes and gaps.
During carbonitriding, the surface layer of the work piece is enriched with both carbon and nitrogen. This process is primarily used for low-alloy construction steels in order to increase their hardness. With higher-alloy steels, it is used to achieve improved surface hardness and higher temper resistance.
High temperature tempering is used for steels that have good tensile strength and hardness properties. The higher the temperature, the higher the increase in a component's toughness. This makes it possible to improve selected mechanical component properties such as tensile strength. The chambers of the heat treatment line are equipped with a convection unit for this process, which floods the working zone with molecular nitrogen (N2). During the tempering process, this nitrogen is circulated by a fan to ensure a constant temperature.
The sub-zero process is used to increase the hardness as well as the dimensional accuracy of a component. In many situations, these are essential prerequisites for the correct functioning of the component. The sub-zero process aims at the transformation or retained austenite into martensite (hard), preventing creeping dimensional changes.