Made In North America? Ion Nitriders

Yesterday we had a news item about a company in Michigan, USA installing a new gas nitrider which was provided by furnace builder Rubig of Austria. The press release prompted some discussions about “Made in America” or perhaps we should say “Made in North America”.

Every single form of thermal processing equipment known to mankind has multiple suppliers in North America; Batch IQ furnaces, Endothermic Generators, Vacuum furnaces, Mesh Belt Lines, Pusher furnaces, Austempering furnaces-you name it and you will find at least 2 or 3 suppliers of every one of these technologies. However there is one exception and that is Ion (Plasma) nitriding systems.

All of the major suppliers of this equipment, Ion Heat of Colombia, Rubig of Austria, Plateg of Germany and Eltropuls of Germany are located outside of North America. The only exception that we are aware of is Surface Combustion of Ohio who does offer cold wall Ion Nitriding systems, however with all due respect to the company our impression is that this is not a technology the company is actively marketing. The reasons for this preponderance of foreign manufacturers are myriad, but it really comes down to the fact that when the technology was first introduced into North America it was not a successful launch for a number of technical reasons and this gave the technology a “black eye” for many years. Probably the main reason it has enjoyed a resurgence over the years is the dedication of Gary Sharp of Advanced Heat Treat Corp., in Iowa who demonstrated that this was a very viable process with real potential in the industry.

So if you are ever asked what is the only heat treating technology in North America which is almost always built outside of North America you can confidently raise your hand and say “Ion Nitriding”.

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