Metlab HT Closing Giving Gear Suppliers “Headaches”

The recent closing of commercial heat treater “Metlab Heat Treat in Wyndmoor, PA, USA (the original news release can be found below) has had lasting ramifications on the gear industry in North America-let us explain. Metlab in size we would have considered to be “average” in terms of annual sales and employees, but it had one very unique capability in that it offered the largest commercially available pit carburizing furnaces in North America with the ability to handle gears up to 50,000 pounds. This made them the heat treater of choice for many gear manufacturers and now with their closing a void has entered the North America gear manufacturing industry which poses the question, “where will gear manufacturers get large gears heat treated”?
For large gear manufacturers such as Horsburgh & Scott   in Cleveland or Timken in Saskatoon, Canada with large pit furnaces of their own it is obviously a mute point but that leaves a lot of gear manufacturers without heat treating capacity scrambling to find a heat treat source for their very large gears and we at “The Monty Heat Treat News” have fielded a number of phone calls on this subject.
First and foremost we are unaware of any other commercial heat treaters in North America who can handle the largest gears-this is now leading several gear manufacturers to seriously considering installing their own pit carburizing furnaces which obviously is not a short term solution.
The surprising solution that several gear manufacturers are considering (or have been doing) is to send the gears to Europe in general and Germany in particular to be heat treated. Europe has always had far more large pit carburizing furnaces than North America partially because Europe is the home of the “windmill industry” with their large gear requirements.
While there are a number of commercial heat treaters in Germany that can handle this work the one we are most familiar with is HÄRTEREI REESE in Bochum, Germany-further down we have an article and a link to the company. We will stress that REESE is only one of a number of commercial heat treaters in Europe that can handle very large parts.
On a final note we at the “Monty Heat Treat News” would be very interested in hearing about what the largest commercially available pit carburizing systems remain in North America.
“96 Year Old Heat Treat to Close. It is with genuine regret that we mention the upcoming closing of one of the oldest commercial heat treats in North America, Metlab Heat Treat of Wyndmoor, PA, USA; “Metlab was founded in 1928 as a manufacturer of aircraft components. As part of the manufacturing process, Metlab created an in-house heat-treating facility to handle delicate, lightweight weldments. The company developed and patented the first “drop bottom” or “gantry” furnace, to allow long, slender tubes and weldments to be hung in the furnace to minimize distortion. This furnace design revolutionized the heat-treating of aluminum as well as aircraft landing gear – providing minimum distortion and rapid cooling. Expertise in deep case carburizing, coupled with large furnaces, has allowed the company to be the choice of manufacturers of large components, such as bearings and gears.”
Not only is it a shame to see the closing of such a well established and well known heat treat, it is especially sad to see one close which has such unique capabilities. Metlab you see has the largest commercially available pit carburizing furnaces in North America and because of this they drew customers from as far away as Mexico and Canada. We will miss working with the company and their owner Mr. Mark Podob.
To learn more about what the company was capable of we would suggest this “Heat Treat Podcast” which was done with the owner a year ago.
Ultra Large Gear Carburizing-“The Heat Treat Podcast”. “The Monty Heat Treat News” is absolutely ecstatic to present to you today the latest “Heat Treat Podcast” in which are handsome host Mr. Carlos Torres speaks with Mr. Mark Podob about carburizing of ultra large gears. Mark is President of Metlab Heat Treat of Wyndmoor, PA, USA a heat treat which has the distinction of having the largest commercially available pit carburizing furnaces in North America. Ultra Large Gear Carburizing | Mark Podob | THE HEAT TREAT PODCAST #49 – YouTube”
HÄRTEREI REESE Bochum, Gear Hardening Video; In Bochum, Germany we find commercial heat treater REESE one of the largest commercial heat treaters in the country. This is a family owned business with a long established history and the distinction of hardening some of the largest gears, shafts and pinions in the world. As a matter of fact the company regularly receives large parts from North America to heat treat for the simple reason that no company in North America has furnaces as large as REESE does.
The centrepiece of their Bochum facility is a monster pit carburizing unit made by ROHDE Schutzgasöfen GmbH in Hanau, Germany. Able to handle parts up to 17’ in diameter, 17’ deep and up to 50 tons we never get tired of seeing this furnace in action which is why their name comes up today. We just received this video from the company showing a typical part (at least for REESE) being heat treated. The other photos show the management team in one picture and in the other the ROHDE furnace shortly after it was installed.

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