Quench Testing with Small Tube Furnaces

Quench testing is carried out to determine the hardenability of steel, which will provide a measurement of the steel’s capacity to harden under a specific set of circumstances. It is a useful test for any manufacturer working with steel, but can also be used for a number of other materials. For example, vertical tube furnaces are widely used in the petrology community for applications such as oxygen fugacity testing. In this blog post, we will look at how quench testing is executed in small tube furnaces and the benefits of doing so.

What is Quench Testing?

To help manufacturers choose the correct combination of alloy steel and heat treatment, they first need to understand the hardenability of steel products. Choosing the appropriate combination should help to minimize the risk of distortion and thermal stresses when different size components are being produced.

It is worth noting that the hardenability of steel is not the same as the hardness. The difference between these two properties are as follows:

Hardenability: The potential for the steel to be hardened by heat treatment (quenching). The hardenability of a steel will depend on its chemical composition and any prior processing conditions.

Hardness: The hardness relates to how hard the steel is, which is based on resistance to penetration.

Why Use Small Tube Furnaces For Quench Testing?

Small tube furnaces are ideal for quench testing because they are specifically designed to support the heat treatment of fairly small samples that require definitive atmospheric and thermal settings. One variation is a horizontal tube furnace, which is suitable for quench testing because it allows for the steel to be heated at just one end, rather than the entire material.

Other reasons to use a small tube furnace for quench testing include:

Atmospheric Controls

Horizontal tube furnaces are the perfect solution for thermal processes that have strict atmospheric requirements. The benefits of this are precise temperature control and programmable alerts, which are vital for a range of lab-based thermal processes. 

Thermal Uniformity

Aside from developing a controlled atmosphere, a small tube furnace also allows for unmatched thermal uniformity. Material that is placed in the furnace’s ‘hot zone’  where temperatures can reach a high of 1800oC across a 360o axis. Quench testing requires this high-temperature stability to ensure the results are accurate, as do many other small batch production processes. 

Zonal Heating

A horizontal tube furnace can be designed to suit a range of applications where zonal heating is beneficial or required. The heating zone in a tube furnace is in the center of the cylinder and a controlled thermal gradient can spread out to one or the other end of the tube.

Deltech specializes in supplying small tube furnaces for a wide range of lab and factory-based processes. These can be used specifically for heat treatment of small samples and offer a range of benefits over other types of furnaces.

If you would like more information on our tube furnaces, please take a look at our product pages or feel free to contact us with questions or queries.

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