Spotlight: Heat treatment
Although the development of new products is integral, growth in the heat treatment sector also depends on a variety of factors. Rhiannon Garth Jones reports on what is giving companies an edge in this competitive market.
After the market fluctuations in recent years, the future could be less variable, with the recovery in the Asian market looking likely to increase and continuing strength in the Americas and Europe. Research and Markets’ report, Global Heat Treating Market 2012–2016, predicts continued growth. Ipsen, the global biotechnology firm, is hoping its Ipsen Corporate Academy, a three-month rotational programme that trains new recruits, will mean it can take advantage of this upward trend, as well as sidestep the challenge of finding young, skilled talent.
For many companies, software is becoming a key aspect of development. Advances in this area allow for greater precision in controlling repetitive processes, which is increasingly important. Stack Metallurgical Services, USA, is one company placing an increasing focus on this area.
Other firms are investing in new facilities. Bodycote, UK, has opened a new centre in Toulouse, France, hoping to continue its expansion into the French market, while Alloy Heat Treatment, based in the Midlands, UK, has stepped into the gap in heat treatment facilities in Dorset to support the local aerospace industry.
Meanwhile, engineers from Dresden Fraunhofer, Germany, will present the firm’s new temperature measuring devices for laser hardening processes, which can be calibrated and recalibrated onsite. Based on fixed-point cells that can be heated to 1500°C within a few minutes, these temperature measurement devices enable the most accurate calibration procedures. The inclusion of a mobile compact inductive heating source removes the problem of limited flexibility and mobility. Additionally, long cycle times between heating and cooling are reduced, with several measurement cycles to establish recalibration points possible within an hour.
Customer service, as well as training and product development, has seen increased focus from Ipsen. The new range of Titan furnaces comes with an aftermarket support package that includes operation and maintenance training as well as installation and servicing. In addition to the support package, the range was created with versatility in mind, with a variety of optional extras for specific needs such as high vacuum pumps, a fast-cooling water system and forklifts.
With expansion into new markets, investment in future talent and anticipating the needs of customers are all additional ways for firms to get ahead, it is not surprising that the industry continues to grow.
Next month’s Spotlight is on analysis and microscopy