Outsourcing Your Heat Treating Processes

One of Metlab’s customers in the South shut down their heat treat equipment for major repairs. The furnaces are expected be down for about four weeks. Their product is gears and pinions, ranging from ¼ pound to about 50 pounds in weight, physical size about 2” in diameter to 60” in diameter, 1” to 24” thick. They also make pinion shafts, and their customers are industrial manufacturers of motors, transmissions, hand tools and a general cross section of power transmission equipment.

When not in a shutdown mode, this manufacturer offloads their over-capacity to Metlab as well as their large size gears which they cannot process themselves, particularly nitriding and carburizing and hardening of large power transmission gears. During their shut down, they off load their entire production to Metlab because of our furnace capacity, flexibility, quality and ability to process multiple batches quickly.

Metlab essentially serves as their in-house heat treat source. While many customers think of Metlab as a large gear heat treat company, this is not the only area of expertise as evidenced by the ability to step in and assume this role for customers who require smaller part processing.
During this shut-down period, Metlab is expected to heat treat about 4,000 pounds of product a week for this customer, processing 4320, 8620, 9310 carburizing grades of gears and pinions with requirements for shallow effective case depths ranging from 0.010 – 0.020” to deeper case depths up to 0.100 – 0.125” case depths.

Some of these gears and pinions require masking to prevent areas which require post-heat treatment machining from becoming hardened as well as cryogenic processing and multiple tempering as part of their process. In addition, a portion of the product processed will be straight hardening and tempering of 4140 and 4340 gearing.

To expedite the heat treating process Metlab receives the purchase orders and packing slips from the customer as soon as the parts are in the customer’s loading dock, allowing for the detailed process specification and shop travelers to be prepared ahead of time, so that the parts are married up with the receiving paperwork when they arrive.

This allows the work to be scheduled well in advance accommodating the just-in-time work flow required to keep the production flow going. Likewise, shipping documentation, including packing slips and certifications for case depth, hardness and microstructure are e-mailed to the customer’s receiving and quality control department so parts are received in advance, minimizing waiting time for paperwork to catch up to the appropriate personnel.

This customer is located about 750 miles away from Metlab, making it a one day point for shipping, and as the cost of freight is minimal, the economics are strongly in favor of outsourcing the heat treating.

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New Truck Fleet and Expanded Service Areas

Metlab, a leader in the supply of heat-treating and surface treatment services, based in Philadelphia, announces the acquisition of a fleet of new vehicles and expanded pick-up and delivery service.

Metlab currently operates:

•    26’ box truck, which is 25,000 GVW
•    24’ box truck
•    Access to stake body truck

The company has invested in new vehicles to provide extensive, reliable service:

•    A new 16’ box truck- 12,500 GVW

•    A new 1-ton van. To kick-off our Baltimore runs and complement our overall pick-up and delivery service.

Daily pick-up and delivery is available to companies in the following regions:
•    Philadelphia,
•    Montgomery,
•    Bucks County regions
•    New Jersey

Pickup and delivery is now available Twice A Week for:
•    Allentown
•    Bethlehem
•    Baltimore and surrounding areas
•    Delaware
•    Northern New Jersey

There is typically no charge for our pick-up and delivery service. Drivers are equipped with two-way radios and cell phones to allow for immediate, last minute requests for service.

Due to our large volume shipping we receive excellent freight rates from common carriers and are often able to arrange freight either by LTL or flat beds pass along prepay and add freight charges, passing along significant savings to our customers.

Customers either issue us purchase orders, or we provide them with a pad that they can keep in the shipping and receiving department for their use to write up individual orders for heat treating and surface finishing.

Metlab provides:
•    Hardening
•    Tempering
•    Carburizing (case-hardening)
•    Nitriding
•    Annealing
•    Black oxide
•    Induction/flame hardening
•    Stress relieving
•    Cryogenic treatment and other thermal processes.

Materials processed include all ferrous and non-ferrous materials. Heat treating is done in strict accordance with military specifications.

Please call our toll free number, 1-800-319-7359 to schedule a pick-up.

Mark Podob
Vice President, Marketing and Sales
1000 E. Mermaid Lane
Wyndmoor, PA 19038
215-233-2600 Ext. 232
(F) 215-233-5653

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Metlab Expands Into Maryland & Delaware With Large And Small Part Heat Treating Services

When customers think of Metlab, they think of large parts heat treating. But Metlab has a long history of heat treating small parts as well. With the acquisition of the John V. Potero Company  in 2001, moving it from Philadelphia a 10,000 square foot facility in downtown Philadelphia to the Metlab campus in Wyndmoor, forming Metlab-Potero and then the subsequent merger of Metlab-Potero into Metlab in December. 2009. No other heat treating company in North America has such an extensive array of heat treating furnaces, processes, and capabilities.

With furnaces ranging in size from 2 feet in diameter to 2 feet long up to 15 feet in diameter by 12 feet deep as well as up to 22 feet long, parts can be heat treated that weigh a few grams to large pieces up to 50,000 pounds.

Here are some examples of small parts that are processed in Metlab’s facility:

Processes offered include:

  • Hardening and tempering
  • Case hardening
  • Nitriding
  • Carbonitriding
  • Nitrocarburizing
  • Stress relieving
  • Black oxide
  • and more…

Recently with the addition of new vehicles and a pick-up and delivery service, Metlab has extended the company’s presence into the Maryland and Delaware markets to provide heat treating and processing services for small part needs of the manufactures and component companies in the region.

Metlab is well known for capabilities to handle very large, industrial and military parts for a variety of treatment processes. The company also works with many customers who have small parts and components for a wide variety of applications. The company is experienced in specialized packaging and shipping requirements to send the part on to the next process or to the end customer.

Call for to discuss your small part needs and specifications. Metlab is able to give you a quote and delivery schedule to meet your project deadlines.

Posted in Black Oxide, carburizing, Heat Treaint Small Parts, Heat Treating, Nitriding | Tagged | Leave a comment

Metlab Heat Treats Automobile Parts For Antiques Racing Car

Metlab, a Philadelphia based heat treatment company, recently heat treated custom fabricated leaf springs of an antique Alfa Romeo Sports Car, which were fabricated for a Pennsylvania based automobile restorer. The leaf springs, made from HR-5160 steel, were patterned after the original springs which were too worn to be reused during the restoration of the automobile. The replacement springs were hardened and press quenched into the shape of the spring, using a pencil drawn template made from the originals, used as a guide. Then they were tempered to a final hardness of HRC 28–32, duplicating the hardness as measured on the samples.

1932 Alfa Romeo 8C2300 Sports Car

The automobile, owned by a private collector, is valued in excess of $1,000,000.00. Metlab is often called upon by automobile restoration companies for heat treating reworked or remanufactured complex engine or chassis components as well as for applying black oxide to OEM automobile parts.

Another recent project included the case hardening of reground lifters from a 1962 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud engine. The lifters has exhibited about 0.010″ wear, were reground to make them all uniform in size. The grinding however had removed the case hardening, hence the requirement for recarburizing and hardening to restore the lifters to original factory specifications for case depth and surface hardness. As measured surface hardness was HRC 62.

In addition, Metlab is often called upon to nitride O.E.M. as well as reground camshafts, crankshafts and other engine components to restore these parts to original factory specifications. Camshafts are typically manufactured from 4140 or 4340 pre-heat treated steel. This steel has a hardness of HRC 28 – 32. Nitriding results in a surface hardness of HRC 60+ and a case depth of up to 0.020″ deep, providing significant wear protection for the cam lobes and gear teeth.

In addition to hardening and surface treatment services, Metlab offers cryogenic processing on automobile engine, transmission and brake parts for improving their performance extending their useful life.

For more information contact:
Mark Podob

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Metlab Donates Ammonia Gas Meter To Fire Department

Metlab was pleased to host the Wyndmoor, PA Fire Department at it’s factory today and present them with a meter for measuring ammonia gas in the atmosphere, as well as a cash donation.

Metlab uses ammonia in one of our heat treating processes to harden the surface of steel parts like gears, automotive crankshafts and camshafts, die casting molds and forging dies, plastic mold tools and other components. The most common use of ammonia is agricultural as a source of nitrogen for fertilizer, but it is also used in water and waste water purification systems, and industrial refrigeration systems. The detector will allow for determining the amount of this gas in the atmosphere to ensure safe levels in the environment. Without their own detector, the Fire Department, in the remote possibility that ammonia needs to be measured in any location in Wyndmoor needs to rely on the Montgomery County Hazardous Materials response team to visit the site and use their own detector. The detector is accurate enough to measure ammonia in parts per million, and is sensitive enough to measure extremely low levels of the gas.


Accepting the meter and check is Fran DePaul, Fire Chief. Jim Conybear, on the far left, and Mark Podob, on the far right making the presentation are the co-owners of Metlab.



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Flame Hardening Crane Wheels and Heat Treating Other Hoist Components

Metlab recently undertook a project with a major crane manufacturer to flame harden the bridge crane wheels for a large overhead multiple bridge crane system. The crane is installed at an aircraft manufacturer and is used to lift airplanes as they are being assembled. Over 1,500 wheels approximately 6 1/2″ O.D. x 2 1/2″ wide, made from 1045 steel were hardened. The requirement was a hard and uniform outside rim hardened to 425 BHN (HRC 45) and a case depth of 1/8″, minimum.

Flame hardening is a surface hardening treatment where the outside of the component is uniformly heated by direct application of a flame. Special burners combining a fuel gas (typically acetylene or) and oxygen are used to generate the flame. Temperature is monitored optically comparing the color of the heated steel to a color/temperature chart as well as using infra-red temperature sensors. When the surface of the part has been hardened to a sufficient depth, the surface is then rapidly cooled by either oil or water quenching, depending on the material being hardened.

The component is then tempered to the appropriate hardness and microstructure. The advantage of flame hardening for a part like a crane wheel is that the process hardens the outside surface only providing a deep case. This results in a highly wear resistant surface, as well as increased bending fatigue strength, while leaving a tough core which can absorb shock, and loading. And as opposed to through hardening, since only a small portion of the wheel is hardened (the surface) there is little or no distortion.

Gears, wheels, rolls and other cylindrical parts are spin flame hardened. They are placed on a motorized table, as shown in the figure, and spun while a flame impinges on the outer diameter of the wheel. For flame hardening to be effective, the component being hardened must have a carbon content of greater than 0.3 % carbon. This includes steel as well as cast iron components. Metlab has the ability to flame harden parts up to 14″ in diameter. Metlab can also flame harden rectangular pieces, like gear racks, machineways, rails, and wear plates.

Metlab has also flame and induction hardened the treads of crane sheaves, crane gears, and also rollers. In addition to these components, Metlab has carburized and hardened other crane components, most significantly hoist drums. These drums are the large cylinders that are used to take up crane wires. While some hoist drums are made from an alloy steel like and are flame hardened, it is not uncommon for the hoist drum to be made from low carbon steel like A-36 to save the cost of material and fabrication and then carburize and harden the drum. Carburizing provides abrasive wear protection to the grooves in the hoist drum, where the hardened steel wires are wound onto the drum.

1045 Steel Bridge Crane Wheel being flame hardened. Wheel is placed on a motorized turntable and burners apply flames to uniformly heat the rim of the wheel to the appropriate hardening temperature. When the rim has been soaked through, it is rapidly quenched, and then the parts tempered resulting in the high hardness required for the application.

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Quality Control

Metlab has over 1,500 customers and heat treats a variety of parts and materials to different specifications. The specifications which are adhered to are either customer standards or processing requirements dictated by the SAE AMS (Society of Automotive Engineers/Aerospace Material Specifications). Metlab is committed to providing quality in every step of its production processes and strictly adheres to all of the requisite standards specified by its customers.

The company has four metallurgists on staff, including not only top management, but a Quality Assurance Manager and Laboratory Manager. The QA Manager responsibilities are the monitoring, documenting and ensuring that specifications are being met and a consistent high- level of quality is achieved for every part processed. Metlab has an in-house metallurgical laboratory for testing the parts, or samples from heat treat lots for conformance to customer requirements.

Each job that comes into Metlab has some form of specification which accompanies the part or component. It might be as simple as a desired hardness range, or more complicated, incorporating case depth, tensile strength, impact properties or other mechanical property requirements. In some cases, the specifications conflict with the process or desired result, and other times they are somewhat “loose” and require clarification.

Other jobs have multiple specifications which need to be met through several processes. As an example, heat treating to AMS 2759, which is a general overview specification followed by black oxide finishing to MIL-DTL-13924. Or adherence to AMS 2750, which dictates temperature uniformity of furnaces. Metlab has on its staff several industry experts, including its Director of Operations, who is on the AMEC Committee (Aerospace Material Engineering Council). This group writes and edits the AMS specifications to provide clarification and guidance to the customers to achieve the correct results for heat treated product is achieved.

At the beginning of the process, each job is reviewed thoroughly and documented with a Shop Order Process Requirement Form. This form is issued to the shop when the order is released for production. Simultaneously, an Order Acknowledgement Form is e-mailed or faxed to the customer acknowledging receipt and acceptance of the order, and providing an estimated shop date. The Shop Order Process Requirement Form has the instructions necessary to process the job as it moves throughout the shop floor. Its focus is to provide specific information for each step in the process.  A test piece also accompanies the job and is evaluated at the end of the process ensure quality, aesthetics and specification requirements.

Test piece from a gear heat treating project. Note that a segment of the gear has been removed, mounted and polished so it can be evaluated for microstructure and case depth.

Each Metlab furnace is equipped with a monitoring system to check temperature, uniformity, gas flows, pressure, and other process variables. While most of the furnaces are automatically controlled, furnace operators are watching and checking as a back-up for any changes in process or possible variables that could affect the quality of the heat treat lot.

Furnace controls are calibrated quarterly as well as furnace temperature uniformity checked twice a year to ensure adherence to AMS specifications. And any thermocouples used to control or monitor temperatures are calibrated to NIST standards. Metlab furnace operators undergo rigorous training not only in the operation of furnaces and related processing equipment, but also basic metallurgical principles so that they have insight into the overall heat treatment procedures to treat different materials.

After the job has gone through the production process, a part or multiple parts are tested to check that the job meets specifications and quality level. These pieces may be checked for conformance to hardness or other mechanical properties. And parts are inspected visually as well. Hardness testers, microscopes and dimensional measuring equipment are all calibrated according to a fixed schedule.

Once a part clears the production process inspection, it goes to the Quality Control manager for final review. Upon approval, a Quality Certification is developed and shipped with the parts to the customer.

Laboratory Manager testing microhardness on a cut, mounted and polished sample to ensure that case depth specification is met.

High-quality is a constant focus and core competency throughout the company and an emphasis on quality is part of the company Mission Statement. Metlab furnace operators undergo rigorous training not only in the operation of furnaces and related processing equipment, but also basic metallurgical principles so that they have insight into the overall heat treatment procedures to treat different materials.

And on-going safety training of all employees, conducted by recognized and accredited industry experts for all aspects of shop operations is key as well. Metlab processes parts for critical applications and is able to achieve consistent quality levels. The QC organization is well versed in working with on-site auditors for special jobs, crucial parts and components. It is not unusual to see a Government Source Inspector or outside customer auditor at Metlab working to verify that the requirements of heat treated components has been met before parts are allowed to ship.

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Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz Visits Metlab

Mark Podob (left) and Jim Conybear (right) owners of Metlab, Philadelphia, PA, welcomed the Honorable Allyson Schwartz, Congresswoman to Metlab on Thursday, April 4, 2013.

The Congresswoman, Representative for the 13th District in Pennsylvania, toured the heat treat plant looking at the two largest pit furnaces in North America as well as such diverse projects as the manufacture of wire supports for the arresting cable mechanism on aircraft carriers, carburizing and hardening crawler shafts for steam shovels, and gears being nitrided for Navy destroyers.

Also noted was the company’s black oxide line used for finishing fasteners, machined parts and other components. Discussions focused on issues facing small businesses, Metlab concerns for the future of manufacturing in Southeastern Pennsylvania and ways for attracting and retaining a skilled workforce.

Posted in Black Oxide, Nitriding, US Manufacturing | Leave a comment

Metlab Refurbishes Large Pit Furnaces Increasing Reliability and Uptime

In anticipation of receiving several large gears and bearing races for carburizing and nitriding, Metlab has completed the upgrade of both of its large pit furnaces. The upgrades enhance the company’s capability to process parts up to 14 feet in diameter by 12 feet long and up to 50,000 pounds. The equipment improvements included refurbishment of nickel base alloy retorts to maintain the appropriate furnace atmosphere, new insulation, and upgrades to burners, burner controls and other instrumentation. Now two furnaces, each of similar size and each with 4 million BTU/hour natural gas heating capability sit side-by-side, adjacent to two quench tanks for oil or water medium quench. Twin overhead cranes, with a combined lifting capability of 25 tons are positioned over the furnaces to load and unload components. Temperature uniformity surveys of both furnaces performed in accordance with AMS 2750D showed that the workzones were +/- 11.5°F at 1750°F, well within the specification requirements of +/- 25°F.

After commissioning of the upgraded furnaces, Metlab commenced carburizing two large 12,000 pound gears, 11 feet in diameter by 7 1/2 inches thick. The gears were carburized to a case depth in excess of 0.250″. The temperature uniformity of the furnace, coupled with special fixturing for supporting the gears during carburizing and hardening, resulted in a heat treated product with minimal distortion and taper. An upcoming contract for nitriding six large main propulsion ship drive gears, each 10′ in diameter by 8′ tall, weighing in excess of 20,000 pounds each, will be run in the furnaces. Company spokesmen indicated that the furnaces would see extensive use for carburizing, nitriding and hardening large gearing as well as heat-treating large carburized bearings destined for use in wind energy turbines.
With over 30 furnaces on-site, the largest 15 feet in diameter, and the longest 24 feet deep, and 40 employees working on three shifts, Metlab, located in Philadelphia serves an international marketplace with an array of comprehensive thermal processes. These include carburizing, nitriding, hardening, annealing, stress relieving, black oxide and other services.
For more information, contact Mark Podob, Vice President, Metlab, 1000 E. Mermaid Lane, Wyndmoor, PA 19038, 215-233-2600, mpodob@metlabheattreat.com.

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Heat Treating Frames For Military Motorcycles Featuring Christini Motorcycles

Christini Technologies is a Philadelphia-based, manufacturer of custom all-wheel drive motorcycles. Known for manufacturing custom motorcycles for competition racing, Christini was recently awarded a contract to supply the Army with 450 tactical scout bikes to be used in worldwide operations.
Integral to the construction of the motorcycle and the performance of the bike is a special welded aluminum alloy frame. Because the frames are of a welded construction, they must be heat treated to restore the mechanical properties to eliminate the soft zone adjacent to the weld. It is critical for the application that the mechanical properties of the welded aluminum frame are restored to the original requirements so the frames do not prematurely fail during use. Metlab is the vendor of choice for the heat treating.

Steve Christini, owner of Christini Motorcycles explains, “During the manufacturing process of the motorcycle frame, you cut the head tube off then weld the frame. This changes the integrity of the metal. Heat treating brings it back to the correct specifications. Then a finish blast is used for aesthetics. We use Metlab because of the way they do the entire heat treating process. The parts are not contaminated and their process is a very clean process. This enhances the strength and integrity of frame.”

Steve Christini owner of Christini Motorcycles

The material used in the frames is 6061 Aluminum. It is specified due to its strength, heat treatability, comparatively easy machining and weldability. Prior to heat treatment, the frames are cleaned to be free of any grease, oil or other contamination that may affect the parts. The frames are then heat treated to the T-6 condition, which consists of solution treating, or heating the parts to 985°F, holding for one hour at temperature and then immediately water quenching. Then the frames are age hardened at 350°F for 8 hours.
We have a load thermocouple that indicates when the part is up to the appropriate temperature. The soak time is dictated by the maximum section thickness.

After heat treatment, the parts are checked for hardness and conductivity to ensure that they meet the mechanical properties for properly heat treated frames. This process uses a calibrated micro-hardness tester and is carried out by trained quality control personnel.

Furnace temperature uniformity is the key to ensuring uniform mechanical properties, and the furnaces used for processing the frames are uniform within +/- 15°F in the complete work zone.
During the inspection process we make sure the mechanical properties, primarily hardness, fall into the process requirement range:

Reference MIL-H-6088, AMS 2770
Solution Treat Quenched Condition W
Age Harden- T6
80 BHN500 – min; 42 HRB; 78 HR15T, 40-50 Conductivity

Solution Treat (Condition W as quenched, T4-natural age at room temperature)
Age Harden – T6 Condition (Artificially Age Harden)

A visual inspection is conducted to determine if there are any types of defects especially around the integrity of the welds.

It is important to position the frames in the furnace so they do not distort during heat treating and also water quenching. While not the case with this particular application, Metlab heat treats certain parts for some customers who weld braces in place to keep the parts from moving. Also, for some customers where distortion is especially critical, parts are straightened before age hardening.

There is special engineering involved in the heat treat relating to the fixturing to both hold the parts and minimize distortion, as well as minimize transfer time. The parts are placed on special fixtures to keep them upright so not distortion from sagging. No special materials are needed for processing, just special equipment.

Metlab often turn parts around for Christini Motorcycles within a few days after receipt, and have given the company routine Friday to Monday service. Currently over 75 frames have been heat treated and processed by Metlab in 2011.

Mark Podob
Metlab Heat Treating

Posted in Heat Treating, Motorcycle Frame Heat Treating | Leave a comment