View our latest video and learn about how, in conjunction with Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Queen City Forging developed a patented rapid infrared process to forge aluminum. In this short video, Queen City Forging President, Rob Mayer, discusses the advantages of Rapid Infrared Heating compared to conventional Convection Oven Heating, such as:
- Superior Metallurgy
- Superior Process Consistency
- Faster Throughput
- Ability to Reheat Forging
- Faster Startup
- Minimal Repair Downtime
- Higher Volume Production
We got involved with infrared heating through our industry association who put us in contact with Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and in conjunction with them, they first built an infrared di-heater. That was the first step of this project, and that being so successful, the next thing we tried was actually heating raw material for forging. The target was aluminum, and we were making aluminum forgings out of convection ovens, conventional convection ovens.
We tried this process using infrared and compared it to the convection oven parts, and the metallurgy was superior. I mean, you could see it in the macros. You could see it in the micros. You could see it in the tensile test. You could see it in the fatigue test, and in every aspect, the only difference was, how was this material heated for forging. The infrared material just turned out better.
In an infrared oven, what we're doing is, it's conveyorized. It's all continuously heated the same amount through the entire run, and it's rapidly heated too. We're not waiting a shift. We're putting it on one end of the belt and taking it off within 15 to 20 minutes. One of the advantages of infrared heating is the ability to reheat for a second forging operation, and this is very common with many forgings, especially in aluminum, where there is a preforming step, and then there is a secondary forging step. Send it through just like the first time, heat it up just as effectively and just as efficiently and just as rapidly, and then finish forging. You've put all your material through your thermal cycle much more rapidly, and that's an improvement that's going to show up in the metallurgy.
It takes about 20 minutes for it to be ready to put the first parts in, and then it takes about another 15 minutes for the parts to come through. You can see right there, just in startup and first heat up, it's got a great advantage. Less than an hour versus maybe half a day with a convection oven.
Our convection ovens ... We were sometimes down for a week in repairs. What we found with the infrared furnace is, we can do all the repairs in a day and get back in production the next day. With this continuous flow through, we're able to address volumes of production that we simply couldn't address before. The ability to make parts, the continuous flow through process, maintain that improvement in metallurgy, and provided us with a process that was simply better, faster, and cheaper.