Sintering is the process of compacting powders (ceramic or metallic) and forming a solid mass of material by heating or pressing without heating it to the melting point.
Because the sintering temperature does not have to reach the melting point of the material, sintering is often chosen as the shaping process for materials with extremely high melting points such as tungsten, molybdenum or ceramics.
Vacuum furnaces’ technologies allow to get rid of the use restrictions of meshbelt furnaces regarding temperature ranges. Indeed, parts can be sintered at higher temperatures – above 1000°C – with perfect control over the sintering atmosphere.
The absence of oxygen allows to sinter alloys that are very sensitive to oxidation.
Generally, sintering operations are one step in a global process made of :
. Pressing metallic powders to form parts
. A debinding or dewaxing phase eliminating the joining materials
. A sintering phase consolidating the part
Moreover regarding steels, when sintering is associated to gas quenching, this type of furnace allows to cool down pieces way faster than when using conveyor furnaces.
Finally, if a final carburizing phase is required for steel parts, this technology allows a flawless transition between the sintering phase and the low pressure carburizing one, without any interruption.
Thus, thanks to this “all-in-one” cycle (debinding, sintering, carburizing & quenching) within the same furnace, cycle times can be highly reduced.