Replacing the Print Head on AH4000 Recorder

AH400 Recorder
AH400 Recorder
The AH4000 multi-channel recorder is used on HotfoilEHS power consoles to monitor and record pre weld, soak, and post weld heat treating. One of the most common questions asked is how to replace the print head.

The video below provides visual, step-by-step instructions.

10 Million BTU Burner for Custom Designed Heat Treating Furnace

Custom heat treating furnaces are designed for the tempering of metals. These furnaces can be electrically heated, or gas heated, depending on the energy source available. Tempering is defined as (from Wikipedia):

"Tempering is a heat treatment technique applied to ferrous alloys, such as steel or cast iron, to achieve greater toughness by decreasing the hardness of the alloy. The reduction in hardness is usually accompanied by an increase in ductility, thereby decreasing the brittleness of the metal. Tempering is usually performed after quenching, which is rapid cooling of the metal to put it in its hardest state. Tempering is accomplished by controlled heating of the quenched work-piece to a temperature below its "lower critical temperature". "

The video below shows the testing of a 10 million BTU ratio air burner designed for a custom heat treating furnace used to pre-stress large metal components prior to welding. Hotfoil-EHS manufactures complete furnace systems using OEM burners and in-house developed control systems.

For more information, contact:

2960 East State Street Ext.
Hamilton, NJ 08619
Phone # 609.588.0900
Fax # 609.588.8333

Self Regulating Heating Cable

Self regulating heating cable
Self regulating heating cable
Self-regulating heating cables automatically adjust their power output to compensate for temperature changes. The outer jacket, braid, and inner jacket provide mechanical, chemical, and electrical protection. The magic happens in the conductive core that surrounds the two parallel conductors. As the ambient temperature drops, the core contracts microscopically, and the number of electrical paths through the core increases, more heat is produced. Conversely, as the ambient temperature rises, the core expands and has fewer electrical paths, and less heat is produced. At a certain temperature, almost all the electrical paths are disrupted and power output is close to zero. A self-regulating heating cable adjusts its power output along its entire length. That's what makes it a safe and reliable solution for many applications.

Self-regulating cable is flexible, and is much easier than constant wattage cable because it can be cut-to-length in the field, terminated, and (if needed) overlapped without fear of burnout. This is very valuable in areas where complex piping systems exist with many valves, tanks and vessels.

As with any heat tracing cable, proper wattage requirements need to be calculated. In order to properly calculate wattage, the following information must be known:
  • Pipe size and material
  • Insulation type and thickness
  • Maintain temperature
  • Minimum ambient temperature
  • Minimum start-up temperature
  • Service voltage
  • Chemical environment
  • Maximum intermittent exposure temperature
  • Electrical area classification
Once this information is known, most manufacturers will have wattage calculators where you can simply use the above data to calculate your requirements.

An Introduction to Thermocouples

Schematic of Type K Thermocouple
(courtesy of Wikipedia)
A thermocouple is a temperature sensor that produces a micro-voltage from a phenomena called the Seebeck Effect. In simple terms, when the junction of two different (dissimilar) metals varies in temperature from a second junction (called the reference junction), a voltage is produced. When the reference junction temperature is known and maintained, the voltage produced by the sensing junction can be measured and directly applied to the change in the sensing junctions' temperature.

Thermocouples are widely used for industrial and commercial temperate control because they are inexpensive, fairly accurate, have a fairly linear temperature-to-signal output curve, come in many “types” (different metal alloys) for many different temperature ranges, and are easily interchangeable. They require no external power to work and can be used in continuous temperature measurement applications from -185 Deg. Celsius (Type T) up to 1700 Deg. Celsius (Type B).

thermocouple attachment unit
Thermocouple attachment unit
For pre-weld heat treatment, Type K thermocouples are generally used. Thermocouples can be directly attached to the workpiece by spot welding the junction of Type K thermocouple wire. The attachment is done with the help of a TAU, or thermocouple attachment devices. Thermocouples are attached so that there is firm contact between the sensing tip and the assembly being heat treated.

Heat Transfer - The Basics

Hopper Heaters
Industrial hopper heaters are
example of conductive heat transfer.
Heat transfer is the movement of heat from one body or substance to another by radiation, conduction, convection, or a combination of these processes.

When heating a pan of water over a gas flame for example, all three forms a heat transfer are taking place. Heat from the flame radiates in all directions. Conduction takes place with the transfer of heat from the burner to the metal pan. This heat transfer is also responsible for making the handle hot after a period of time. Water is heated by the process up convection which is a circular movement caused by heated water rising and cold water falling.

The process of heat transfer also occurs when an object cools. If a mug of hot coffee is left standing on a cold kitchen countertop, its temperature will gradually decrease as heat is lost. The heat energy dissipates by conduction through the mug to the table top by convection as the liquid rises, cools and sinks, and by the radiation of heat into the surrounding air.

One way to conserve the heat a liquid and prevent heat transfer is to place it in a thermos. The use a vacuum chamber with silvered surfaces, along with low conductive materials, can greatly improve the amount of heat or cold that is lost to the surrounding environment. In between the silvered glass walls up a thermos lies a vacuum. In the case of a hot liquid heat transfer by convection through the vacuum is greatly restricted due to the absence have air molecules necessary to facilitate the transfer of heat. The lack of physical contact between the inside and outside walls of the thermos due to this airless space also greatly inhibits the movement of heat by conduction. Heat loss by radiation is prevented by the silvered walls reflecting radiant energy back into the thermos. Some conduction of heat through the stopper in glass can be expected but this too is limited because they are made of materials with very low conductivity. Thus the temperatures are both hot and cold liquids can be maintained by a properly designed thermos that limits the transfer energy through radiation convection and conduction.

Heat capacity is the amount of heat required to change the temperature of an object or substance by one degree Celsius. The heat capacity of water varies depending on its phase. As solid ice, the heat capacity of water is .5 calories per gram for every one degree Celsius, which means it takes half a calorie to raise the temperature of one gram of ice one degree Celsius.

As a liquid, water heat capacity is one calorie per gram for every one degree Celsius, so it takes one calorie of heat energy to raise one gram of water one degree Celsius.

The processes of phase change between solid, liquid, and gas also require a specific amount of heat energy. The amount of energy required to change a liquid into a solid, or a solid into a liquid, is known as heat of fusion. The amount of heat required to change one gram of ice to water is 80 calories. Similarly the heat vaporization is the energy required to transform a liquid into a gas. It requires 540 calories to change one gram of liquid water into a gas. With these values its easy to calculate exactly how many calories of heat energy are required to transform one gram a ice at absolute zero to steam.

To warm 1 gram of ice from -273 degrees Celsius to 0 degrees celsius would be 273 times .5 gram per calorie or about 140 calories. The phase-change of one gram a ice to liquid water requires 80 calories. Then to heat the water from zero degrees Celsius to 100 degrees Celsius with the heat capacity at one calorie per gram, would require 100 calories. The final phase change it one gram a boiling water to steam would require an additional 540 calories. Adding all of these values together yields 860 calories, the amount of heat energy it takes to transform one gram gram of ice at absolute zero to steam.

Watch this video for an illustration of the above:

Welding Preheat Basics

welding preheat
Why preheat welds?
Weld preheating is the process of heating the base metal (parts to be welded) to a specific temperature prior to welding. The specific temperature to which the part needs to be heated (before welding) is referred to as the “preheat temperature”.

The area requiring preheat may be the whole (entire) part, or just the area immediately surrounding the weld.

Preheating may continue during the actual welding process, but many times the energy generated from welding will be sufficient to maintain the desired temperature.  The temperature of the weld between the first pass and the last pass is referred to as “interpass temperature”. As long as it can be assured that interpass temperature will not fall below the preheat temperature, continued preheating is usually not required.

There are several key reasons why it's important to preheat before welding. First, a preheated part cools more slowly, which slows the overall cooling rate of the welded part. This improves the metallurgical (crystalline) structure and makes it less prone to cracking. Additionally, hydrogen that may be present immediately after a weld is also released more efficiently, which further reduces the possibility cracking. Preheating also mitigates stress from the shrinkage at the weld joint and nearby metal. Finally, pre-heating reduces the possibility of fracture during fabrication due to brittleness.

Electric welding preheaters, known as "ceramic mat heaters", are rugged and flexible heating elements designed so that they conform uniformly around the weld and surrounding area.  Ceramic mat heaters are normally controlled by a power console that uses thermocouples and electronic controllers to regulate, monitor, and many times record, the preheat temperature profile.

Welding code is the first determinant to whether pre-heating is needed. Welding code carefully specifies the minimum preheat temperature, the soak time, and the welding process. Many criteria are considered by welding codes, all gathered from years of rigorously tested data. This data is accumulated from many sources, including metallurgical science, chemical properties of materials, and radiographic analysis.

Determining whether or not preheating is required should not be taken lightly, as it is critical to the quality of a weld and therefore critical to the performance of a structure. When in doubt, review of industry code or contacting an industry expert, is imperative.

Automatic Heat Treatment Power Consoles

power console
Typical Power Console
(courtesy of HotfoilEHS)
Automatic heat treatment power consoles are used to control various heat treatment processes (i.e. pre-weld, post-weld) by closely controlling the temperature of the item being welded. The power console accurately controls the ramping rate (up and down), the soak temperature, the set point and the time. Power consoles are available from 2 to 24 zones of control. Zone can be used either in the fully automatic or manual mode.

ceramic mat heater
Ceramic Mat Heater
The power console is used to provide power to electric heating elements called ceramic mat heaters. Ceramic mat heaters are constructed of nichrome wire interwoven into ceramic beads which provides electrical insulation and protection. These heaters are quite rugged and conform to curved and irregular shapes.

Thermocouples are used to sense the target temperature and send their signal back to some type of electronic temperature controller, recorder, or combination thereof. The sophistication of the control system can range from simple manual control to fully automatic control with large graphic displays. Recorders are frequently used to document the pre-heat, soak, and post-heat process. Welding integrity depends on precise and accurate control.

Power Console Controller
Recorder used on
welding power console.
Heat treatment power consoles are built on sturdy chassis of steel and depending on ambient conditions, stainless steel. Construction includes wheels and handles for easy relocation and many electrical components for safety and convenience (such as amp meters, indicator lights, cut-off switches, fuses, and alarms).

For more information, contact:

Hotfoil-EHS, Inc.
2960 East State Street Ext.
Hamilton, NJ 08619
Phone # 609.588.0900
Fax # 609.588.8333