Ask the Expert: Protecting Your Vacuum Furnace from Humidity (Part 1)

By Jim Grann, Technical Director
Q: With the summer months bringing heat and humidity, it can be a struggle to keep our vacuum furnace clean and dry between processes. This can create process quality control problems for clients that use us to braze or bright temper high-precision parts for the medical and nuclear industries. Is there some tool or system that I could use to keep the humidity out of the furnace when the door is open?

Have you ever noticed that when you walk into a supermarket, there’s a vertical stream of moving air you pass through when you’re going from the hot and humid outside to the temperature-controlled inside?

What you’re experiencing is called an “air curtain” – a large fan installed above the door frame acting as a second door to keep most of the unwanted outside pests, dust, heat, and humidity from coming into the store.

With some clever engineering and a little nitrogen gas, Ipsen engineers can do the same thing for your furnace.

The Ipsen support team designed and installed a nitrogen air curtain for a customer in Texas that had been dealing with excess furnace moisture due to ambient humidity. Now, when the door is open during the summer, the nitrogen curtain comes on to keep most of the unwanted exterior atmosphere at bay. During the cooler, drier months, they can turn off the air curtain to reduce nitrogen usage.

What the customer has found is that their furnace stays clean and dry for much longer than before, leading to fewer scrapped parts, less downtime, and greater longevity for their hot zone. And because ambient air is made up of 78 percent nitrogen to begin with, using a nitrogen air curtain is non-polluting, non-reactive, and non-toxic. The nitrogen air curtain is a clever solution to a common problem, and just one example of the many ways Ipsen support has worked with customers to meet their specific needs.

WARNING: When working with or around inert gases, always adhere to the confined space entry requirements specified in your operator’s manual and/or OSHA requirements.

If you’re struggling to keep atmospheric contaminants out of your furnace or have another puzzle that we can help you solve, call us for technical support. Our support hotline is 844-Go-Ipsen, or fill our our online form.