Vacuum Heat Treatment for 3D Printing: The Ultimate Guide
by aifurnaces
May 13, 2022

What is a Tube Furnace and Why Should You Have One?

All kinds of laboratories require some machinery to perform certain testing procedures. For example, some labs may need different types of heat treatment furnaces to test a variety of materials. Then, there are materials that require precise temperature control to dry properly without ruining the sample. 

If your lab needs machinery that allows for precise temperature control, the best equipment is a tube furnace. Here are some things to consider when looking for an addition to your laboratory equipment.

What is a Tube Furnace?

A tube furnace is an electronic heating device that exposes materials to different temperatures with precise control and uniformity. It houses a working tube or vessel that processes or heats small samples in an inert atmosphere. This lets you expose materials to a wide range of temperatures in varying periods.

Its refractory heating coils or ribbons are embedded in the ceramic heating chamber and are responsible for the uniform temperature distribution. A tube furnace has various applications, including heat treatment, crystal growth, synthesis, and purification of compounds.

Types of Tube Furnaces

1. Split Tube Furnace

The split tube furnace enables you to access the internal chamber easily with its hinged body that opens halfway. This is especially helpful when installing or removing work tubes and vessels with ends and fittings that may not fit with other types of tube furnaces. It’s often used in academic and R&D applications such as tensile testing, pyrolysis, chemical vapor deposition, and graphitization.

A split tube furnace with a quartz tube has several benefits. Not only is it more durable than others, but it also has a high-temperature resistance with a melting point of 108 °C. This ensures a stable thermal performance even when temperatures suddenly change. Additionally, the quartz material has a higher corrosion resistance than ceramics and stainless steel, with a good insulation feature for electricity.

2. Solid Tube Furnace

This lab tube furnace doesn’t open vertically or lengthwise, unlike the split tube. However, this type can handle applications continuously using a specific sample size in its single or multi-heating zones. This provides temperatures with consistency and precision throughout the heating process, with its built-in diffusers protecting against heat radiation.

It usually comes with a central hot zone where process tubes pass through, with end or top plugs protruding from the body to access the processing chamber easily. Metallic sheath elements are also present in areas where increasing heat is needed. With the lightweight ceramic and fiber insulation, the materials you’re testing can quickly heat up, recover, and cool down.

3. Rotary Tube

A rotary tube furnace is a metal drum lined with refractory material and mounted at an angle. Most labs use this furnace for physiochemical processing of loose material as it heats and mixes samples simultaneously within a controlled atmosphere.

During heat treatment, samples pass through the work tube in a circular path due to the rotating of the circular furnace. This ensures even heat distribution throughout the sample size.

Rotary tube furnaces are designed to continuously process materials by applying heat in multiple thermal control zones, from a heat source to a rotating tube holding the sample. Burning pulverized, solid, gaseous, or liquid fuel into its work tubes creates heating gasses that flow to the samples. 

The classification of rotary furnaces depends on the type of heat exchange (i.e., parallel or opposing gas flow) and method of transferring energy (i.e., direct, indirect, or combined).

Why Use a Tube Furnace?

A tube furnace is worth having in your lab primarily due to the uniform thermal temperatures of its cylindrical heaters. Multiple sections inside the furnace include several heating elements that evenly distribute heat consistently. The uniform heating of tube furnaces makes them ideal for sensitive thermal processing applications like thermocouple calibration.

On top of this, you can boost its processing capabilities by integrating it with multiple heating zones, allowing you and your staff to fully control temperature gradients. This enables you to finely tune all phases of thermal processing, such as the heating up and cooling down stages. 

Also, a tube furnace is perfect for processing smaller samples with its smaller volume capacity and quick heat-up rates. This uses up lesser electricity, so you won’t have to worry about wasting energy when powering up the equipment just to test a small batch of sample size, unlike a chamber furnace. 

Its sealed work tubes also protect the furnace from contaminants and maintain a modified environment for your samples, ensuring testing accuracy.

Power Your Heat Treatments with Tube Furnaces

Different laboratories need different equipment that caters to their specific testing processes. Using tube furnaces can be beneficial for laboratories that require heating or drying processes. But if you’re not sure whether you need one, consider what materials you’ll use it for and the processes you’ll conduct. 

With its precise temperature control that evenly distributes consistent heat, you can use tube furnaces for various samples. Check out AI Furnaces’ selection of tube furnaces. Fill out the contact form below to know more about how this can upgrade your lab’s efficiency and productivity.


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