Bluewater Thermal Solutions, located at 118 Access Rd., St. Marys, held an open house Thursday morning to introduce the company's new induction heat treating process.
According to General Manager Jason Hanes, induction hardening differs from traditional furnace hardening because it focuses on hardening a specific area of a part instead of the entire part.
"No one in the area offers that type of hardening process," Hanes said.
Hanes explained that by by using induction hardening they can take a gear, harden only the teeth, and leave the rest of the material unchanged.
The hardening can even be done to a certain depth, though only one or two parts can be hardened at a time.
"That's the big difference," Hanes said. "This process occurs one at a time or two at a time, whereas with a belt process or batch furnace process, you're doing a big batch."
According to a fact sheet provided by the company, the induction hardening process is completed "through the application of an induced magnetic field created by passing high-frequency electricity through a coil adjacent to the part...the area of the part requiring hardening can be heated to process temperature, approximately 1600 degrees Fahrenheit, in a matter of seconds. The part is then cooled rapidly by a quench spray from nozzles integrated into the coil. The parts are then transferred immediately to a belt furnace for tempering to relieve stress from the quench transformation. Common applications for induction hardening are gear and sprocket teeth, internal splines, and shafts."
The company decided to begin offering the induction hardening process after looking at the needs of its customer base.
"Through our customers inquiring, we identified a need here locally. All of the businesses in this area that require induction hardening are currently sending their business at least three hours away," Hanes said.
Hanes indicated that the closest locations offering induction hardening are Erie, Cleveland and Elmira, N.Y.
In addition to the time required to send parts back and forth to those locations, Hanes noted that there is also a significant cost associated with shipping fees for the parts.
"They're very eager to have a local source to shorten their lead times and reduce their trucking costs and also have a source locally that they can access to work with product development and whatnot. We're right here. They don't have to drive to Cleveland to develop a part or to get something going or if there's an issue," Hanes said.
Hanes remarked that there are currently eight businesses within a 50-mile radius that utilize the induction hardening process for their products.