CFC Fixturing-A Growing Trend?
CFC (Carbon Fiber Composite) furnace fixtures have been around for quite some time but have always occupied a very tiny portion of the worldwide furnace fixture market with the vast bulk of fixturing being made of either 330SS material for fabricated fixturing or an equivalent cast material, HT or HU. The benefits of CFC are very clear, an almost indefinite lifespan, no distortion and very light weight. Balanced against this is the fact that CFC is damned expensive which means up until recently it was only found in aerospace vacuum furnace applications. Having said that over the course of the past few years it has enjoyed quite a bit of success for holding automotive transmission components in vacuum carburizing situations, and it now appears ready to see some success in endothermic/oil quench situations. We have run across a number of captive and commercial heat treaters who are in the process of testing CFC fixturing in these applications with the main driver being the reduced weight. Consider that the fixtures will last almost for forever and the reduced weight can mean up to a few hundred pounds more of actual product in a batch IQ furnace load and the numbers become quite interesting. Not for a second are we predicting that CFC is going to take over the market any time soon but we do predict that it will become more known. To give you a bit more of an idea about CFC products these two pictures were taken last week at Graphite Materials in Germany, a substantial supplier to the worldwide CFC market. The pictures give you a fair idea about what a facility for producing CFC fixtures actually looks like.