Being of modular design, the continuous vacuum furnace may be designed in many configurations. One of the most popular configurations is the multi-zone continuous vacuum furnace. It consists of 3 modular chambers: a load/evacuation chamber, a heating chamber, and a quench chamber.
This type of vacuum furnace is unique in that it simulates the philosophy of an atmosphere conveyor belt furnace or a hydrogen pusher furnace. Workloads are essentially conveyed through a multi-zone heating chamber under vacuum so there is no atmosphere to control. The heating chamber is isolated from the loading and quenching chambers by vacuum or pressure doors. The heating chamber therefore remains extremely pure, under vacuum and at temperature, not exposed to room air unless maintenance is required. Isolation from room air and humidity and coupled with the fact that the heat chamber is not thermally cycled, this results in lower maintenance and long life of the heat chamber components.
Workloads are indexed and heated through a multi-position heating chamber. Upon soaking for the appropriate time and at the appropriate temperature, the workload in the last heating position is transferred smoothly and quickly to the quench chamber through an internal door. The quench chamber may be of oil or pressure quench design depending upon the application. Only the workload is quenched. As the index rate may be as fast as a workload every 10 minutes, the quench rate is very rapid.