Ovens for heating aluminum

Dec. 15, 2002
Q: What is the recommended temperature for heating aluminum billets for forging at a minimum capacity of 1,000 lb/hr?

... I have been asked to recommend an oven or furnace to heat 2000, 6000, and 7000 alloy aluminum billets for a large press (over 2,500 tons). We want to set the temperature without concern of exceeding the recommended forging temperature range. The capacity must be 1,000 lb/hr minimum.

A: Several companies offer standard furnaces/ovens for aluminum and others can custom build ovens for such applications. You’ll find names and addresses for these companies in the Forging Buyers Guide, September-October 2~E2.

Your specifications should include gas-fired ovens using radiant tube heating only—no direct contact between products of combustion and the workloads. Electric-fired ovens would probably be too expensive to operate.

Gas-fired ovens should be designed with some type of conveyor system, such as a chain-driven belt for continuous operation. Thermocouples should be in the mid-zone and the final work zone to monitor temperature. Periodic furnace temperature profiles with buried thermocouples in bars up to 4 in. diameter should be used to evaluate temperature uniformity.

Since you’ll be using the furnaces primarily for heating billets, the temperature controls need not he as precise as for heat treating.

H. James Henning answers forgers' technical and operational questions. For more than 40 years he held key technical positions in the forging industry, most recently as director of technology for the Forging Industry Association. He is president of Henning Education Services, Columbus, OH, specializing in customized education and training in forging technologies.

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