How to streamline your heat-treating business (for high value clients)

By Gene Ligman
Heat treatment of metal

When it comes to the heat treatment industry, the market is, and will likely always be a challenging one. Customers who seek out heat treatment services are not usually flush with liquid capital. Their commodities, which are often common steel parts, must sell for commodity prices, and those prices aren’t always as high as you would hope.

If you're looking to improve your rate of return as a heat-treating company, you must attract top quality customers. Here are three key ways to accomplish this goal:


Clean Up Your Facility

Businesses that are not clean and energy-efficient are unlikely to impress a customer like Lockheed Martin, Boeing, or General Dynamics.

Usually, these companies send a representative to perform a source inspection of your facility before they decide to move forward with a partnership. If they have to walk through a puddle of oil caused by a leaky piston pump, your contract could be in jeopardy.

Mostly though, they will be looking to see if you have the right capabilities to heat treat their most critical components. These days, that means special alloys, titanium, and titanium aluminide. They might also be considering powdered metal parts, and they will need to know if your facility can handle the debinding and densification steps properly. For a taste of how complex this process can be, check out this article published in Materials (Basel), Debinding and Sintering of an Injection-Moulded Hypereutectic Al–Si Alloy.

Make sure your facility and all its machinery are looking clean and well-maintained before potential customers arrive for an inspection.

Related: There'll be multiple systems (like vacuum pumps) that have strict requirements on hermetic sealing in your industry. Give yourself a head start and prevent those "oil puddles" ever surprising you with the help of our essential guide  to The Fundamentals of Leak Detection. Click  the button below for more on types of leaks, leak detection methods and more.

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Upgrade Your Vacuum System

When you are preparing for potential client visits, you'll need to look closely at whether your furnaces are able to meet the timing requirements of these more challenging materials. If not, you will need to upgrade your vacuum systems.

Those 1722s and NHS35s might not be fast enough for more lucrative customers. You'll need to make a choice: upgrade your facility or remain small.

Upgraded pumps can aid in increasing energy efficiency and help you avoid bureaucratic red tape through the EPA as well. You can also expect to lower your power bill by 30% to 50%, and reduce spending on diffusion pump oil, vacuum pump oil, and disposal.

There are other benefits to upgrading your vacuum system as well, including:

  • Reaching target pressure on diffusion pumps faster
  • Pump noise reduction
  • Minimizing oil changes, oil leaks, and smelly oil smoke exhaust (e.g. with dry compressing vacuum pumps)
  • Consistent, reliable performance from all your vacuum pumps

These improvements also mean that your maintenance team can prioritize work on the hot zones and other maintenance-intensive equipment in your facility, instead of changing oil on vacuum pumps. Potential customers will take note of the efficiency of your systems and the reliability of your hardware.

Related: We know your business is unique, so we'll develop tailor-made solutions for your vacuum engineering tasks. Learn more on our Vacuum Systems product page

Work with Professionals

If you’re looking for other ways to up your game, Leybold has top applications engineers who can model your furnace to show you many options and how each will affect your performance. Contact the team to set up a meeting, or send through your questions. 

Or, if you'd like to perform some basic vacuum calculations on your own first, try our LEYCALC software — it's FREE and easy to use. Click the button below to get started.  

Start Your First Vacuum Calculation


Tags: Heat Treatment, Industrial & Process Vacuum, Maintenance & Service

About Gene Ligman

Gene Ligman

Gene Ligman is an engineer with a passion for vacuum applications and equipment. He started his engineering career over 30 years ago in the nuclear power industry where he was first introduced to the utility of vacuum in steam systems and some basic vacuum generating equipment. In the mid 1990’s, he joined Edwards Vacuum where his knowledge of vacuum applications and equipment expanded exponentially.

Having a degree in mechanical engineering with a focus on vapor physics has propelled him to become one of the primary resources in applications where phase change creates complexities above and beyond the normal complexities of vacuum applications. Now with Leybold USA, Gene is a Sales Development Manager for Leybold’s largest and most industrial vacuum generating equipment. He trains the US organization in key insights about how the right vacuum equipment can radically improve the productivity and profitability of vacuum-using factories. These insights, along with his passion for vapor physics make him a leading authority in vacuum system design.

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