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Introduction to Lean-Integrated Heat Treating Solutions

An Affiliate of Akron Steel Treating Company

In 2017, the owner of Akron Steel Treating Company (ASTC) founded a new heat treating engineering company, Integrated Heat Treating Solutions, LLC (IHTS). IHTS’s Mission is to integrate ASTC’s 74 years of “traditional” commercial heat treating experience, our “tribal knowledge,” with the last 20 years of “advanced” heat treating process and equipment development done as a licensee of IQ Technologies Inc, commercializing the advanced IntensiQuench® processes and equipment. With our teaming partners at IQT, and our many other collaborators, e.g., Dante Solutions (for process modeling and Dante controlled gas quenching), Airflow Science Corporation (for CFD modeling), Dr. George E. Totten (for quenchant characterization), ASTC is at the forefront of applying advanced heat treating technologies, for heat treat processing methods as well as new equipment.

Integrated Heat Treating Solutions provides its customers with complete “Lean-Integrated” Heat Treating Solutions that are concurrently engineered with their customers’ lean part manufacturing processes, all in the proper sequence of operations; from optimizing the part design and material selection that is “upstream” of heat treating, to the elimination of the waste downstream of heat treating. IHTS consultants assist the part designer to select the optimal raw material to obtain the needed mechanical properties; whether wrought, forged, powdered metal or cast raw material, the goal is to provide better wear resistance, longer cyclic fatigue life, better corrosion resistance, higher power density, etc., all at a total lower cost of manufacture.

IHTS assists the customers with concurrent engineering of “upstream” machining and fabricating steps before heat treatments, as well as all “downstream” steps after heat treating, with due consideration for all of the “intended” as well as the “unintended” end-use requirements for the part. IHTS will also help with considerations for additive or subtractive manufacturing of the part for the specific end-use, in the proper sequence of operations relative to heat treating. By examining each and every step of the part making value stream, as it relates to the heat treating processes, IHTS consultants help to specify the optimal heating and cooling processes and the optimal equipment that can eliminate waste caused by the heat treating processes. IHTS works to assure that each heat treating process is truly delivering value to its customer, as well as for the part end-users, while eliminating waste “downstream” of heat treatment – part cleaning, cold straightening, hard turning, grinding, etc.

IHTS consultants recommend the optimal heating methods, whether by controlled atmosphere furnace, molten salt bath, vacuum furnace or by induction or flame heating, as well as the optimal quench cooling methods (air/gas, molten salts, oil or intensive water quench). IHTS consultants also help their clients to evaluate the heat treating services and equipment that are available to their customer; either within a part maker’s organization (their “captive” heat treat department), or at a high quality commercial heat treater, such as ASTC. If a particular part heat treatment can be integrated into the part-machining cell or forging operation for single part flow, IHTS teaming partners can assist with the sourcing of the needed methods and equipment that are optimized to each part.

Lean-Integrated Heat Treating Solutions enable the following “lean and green” benefits:

A. Optimal part grain refinement for a given alloy using the least costly alloy of steel or ductile iron (IQDI®) for the “intended quench” that yields consistently uniform mechanical properties for a given part geometry and mass (for higher power density and longer lasting parts).

B. Predictable size change after quench (low distortion) with uniform control of the three types of size change from heat treat quenching: thermal shrinkage, phase change expansion and unstable retained austenite. Predictable size change gives the part maker the ability to optimize the part green size for a “quench to fit” net shape after hardening that can eliminate the downstream waste of grinding, flattening and straightening.

C. Optimal compressive surface stress state in the tempered part, as well as an optimal balance of hardness and ductility; the addition of a “Third Dimension” of compressive surface stress after heat treating yields longer cyclic fatigue life and lighter, higher power density, power transmission components.

D. In-line, single part flow heat treating – even for case hardened parts (this can be done without the long, energy intensive, batch carburizing process) or direct from the forge intensive quenching (DFIQ).

E. Alignment of lean + green company initiatives with heat treating by elimination of oil quenching hazards and by shortening, or full elimination of heating cycle times (DFIQ and Controlled Hardenability Steels for case hardened-core toughened parts without batch carburizing).

F. Integration of modern computer modeling tools for lean part design, with the optimal material alloy selection, for more net shape, higher power density and longer wearing heat treated parts, all at a lower total cost of manufacture.

To integrate all our traditional and advanced heat treating technologies into the lean part manufacturing value stream, and to fully enable the above benefits, IHTS consultants can also provide heat treat metallurgy training.

When all the customers in the lean manufacturing value stream are in alignment with their “heat treaters,” including the machinists, forgers, casters, and steel makers, the results are “better” heat treated parts, at a total lower cost of manufacture. In this way, Integrated Heat Treating Solutions works to assure that each heat treating process is truly delivering optimal value to our customer.

For additional information, please view the Integrated Heat Treating Solutions Website.