Gas carburizing has been around for a long time. One could argue that gas carburizing is the most common heat treating process. Heat treaters performing gas carburizing are often characterized by a dirty environment, hazy surroundings, and that “smell.” While the product quality may be acceptable, gas carburized parts do come with some challenges, like excessive intergranular oxidation (IGO) or intergranular attack (IGA), which is often ground off. Low-pressure carburizing (LPC) has proven to be a much cleaner and very capable alternative process. Most furnace companies have combined LPC with high pressure gas quenching, which moved carburizing from the dark back room to a relatively “clean room” environment. However, there is still a strong need for oil quenching, which is the common feature of the long used standard integral-quench (IQ) furnace.
Suppliers are working hard to make
sure their heat treating equipment is controllable, repeatable and efficient,
and manufacturers continue to incorporate technology that gives heat treaters and their customers more information about what's going on inside the magic box.