Approximately one year ago, William R. Jones, CEO of the Solar Group of Companies, decided to donate a small horizontal vacuum furnace for use as a teaching tool in the ASM International training facility in Materials Park, Ohio. This furnace was given the name "The Mentor" as it would serve to teach and guide students seeking to advance in the metals processing world. At the same time that this furnace was engineered and manufactured, a second unit was built for the Solar Atmospheres Plant in Hermitage, Pa. Because this furnace proved to be very useful, Solar Manufacturing elected to offer it to the general marketplace. Several companies realized that such a unit could be a very useful piece of equipment and to-date, seven Mentor furnaces have been sold.
The furnace is a Solar Manufacturing Horizontal Model HFL-2018-2IQ and is mounted on a single, portable platform for easy shipment and maneuverability. The Mentor's work zone measures 12" wide by 12" high by 18" deep, which allows heat treaters the convenience of running smaller workloads more economically. The hot zone design incorporates a graphite foil hot face backed by four layers of ½"-thick, highly efficient Rayon graphite felt supported in a stainless steel ring structure. It is rated to a maximum operating temperature of 3000°F and is AMS 2750 E compliant with a temperature uniformity of +/-10°F between 800°F and 2400°F. The furnace hearth is capable of supporting loads up to 250 pounds at 2150°F.
The vacuum pumping system includes an Alcatel 33 CFM mechanical pump and a Varian VHS-6 diffusion pump for ultimate vacuum in the 10-6 torr range. The internal gas cooling system is capable of cooling at 2 bar pressure utilizing a 7-½ HP motor and a low resistance, straight through, all copper water cooled heat exchanger.
Pete Reh, vice president of sales, when asked to comment on the popularity of The Mentor, answered that "Even though The Mentor is compact, it is by no means short on capability. It is loaded with standard production furnace features just like all of our other vacuum furnaces including SolarVac interactive controls consisting of an Allen-Bradley MicroLogix PLC, Allen-Bradley PanelView HMI touchscreen interface, and a Eurotherm Graphic Video Recorder with data acquisition."
Related Glossary Terms
1. Spreading of a constituent in a gas, liquid or solid, tending to make the composition of all parts uniform. 2. Spontaneous movement of atoms or molecules to new sites within a material.