When you are shopping for aluminum cap nuts or 316 Stainless steel hex head cap screws, one of the things you might come across is the issue of vacuum treatment. In essence, vacuum treatment is a form of treatment where the fasteners are heated in a vacuum to ensure that they attain a specific chemical […]

vacuum treatment for fasteners
When you are shopping for aluminum cap nuts or 316 Stainless steel hex head cap screws, one of the things you might come across is the issue of vacuum treatment. In essence, vacuum treatment is a form of treatment where the fasteners are heated in a vacuum to ensure that they attain a specific chemical or structural characteristic. The characteristic often depends on the type of metal involved, as well as the temperatures at which the metals have been heated.
The use of a vacuum system for this application is a fairly recent technology that has been put in place to ensure that the performance of the fasteners is improved. It’s important that you understand how this work as the consumer, so that the next time you go shopping for fasteners you will have an easy time making decisions on what to get.

How the vacuum systems work
The vacuum heating systems come in a variety of designs. However, all of them work with one basic premise: they ensure that the pressure within the chamber is low enough so that the heating process is more versatile. Typically, the pressures within the vacuum are below the atmospheric pressures, but not at zero.

 
Some of the benefits of vacuum systems in fastener manufacturing
There have been many demonstrated benefits of such systems in manufacturing. For one, they reduce the risk of contamination of the products. In a vacuum, it is easier to condition the environment to ensure that contaminants such as dirt and water do not come into contact with the fasteners when they are being heated or otherwise treated. This means that the final product will be of very high quality. It’s also possible to ensure that each of the fasteners going through the cycle will have exactly similar properties, since they will have been manufactured in the same environment.
Processes that can be carried out in the facility
There are a number of processes that can be carried out in such a facility when doing fastener production including:

  • Hardening using oil quenching: In this process, horizontal vacuum furnaces are used as a container in which agitated oil and fasteners are put into contact with each other. The oil is heated to accelerate the chemical reaction between it and the fasteners, to ensure that they then become hardened.
  • Hardening using gas quenching: Another technology that can be carried out in the vacuum chamber is hardening by gas quenching. In this process, inert gases are introduced into the vacuum at a pressure of around 2 to 20 bar. The fasteners are then put in this environment, with the result that they end up being hardened.

In addition to the above, other fastener treatments that are often done in a vacuum include martensitic treatment as well as precipitation hardening and the creation of superalloys.
As you can see, there are many ways in which vacuums can be used in the treatment of fasteners. This is one treatment method that you should definitely consider the next time you are shopping for fasteners.

About the Author

Larry Melone
By Larry Melone
President

Started my career in the fastener world in 1969 at, Parker Kalon Corp. a NJ based screw manufacturer located in Clifton, NJ working in inventory control, scheduling secondary production and concluding there in purchasing. In 1971 I accepted a sales position at Star Stainless Screw Co., Totowa, NJ working in inside sales and later as an outside salesman, having a successful career at Star I had the desire with a friend to start our own fastener distribution company in 1980 named: Divspec, Kenilworth, NJ. This was a successful adventure but ended in 1985 with me starting Melfast in August 1985 and have stayed competitive and successful to date. Melfast serves the OEM market with approximately 400 accounts nationally.

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