The main aim of this study was to examine the compression-induced state of stress arising in castings of the guide grates during operation in pusher-type furnaces for heat treatment. The effect of grate compression is caused by its forced movement in the furnace. The introduction of flexible segments to the grate structure changes in a significant way the stress distribution, mainly by decreasing its value, and consequently considerably extends the lifetime of the grates. The stress distribution was examined in the grates with flexible segments arranged crosswise (normal to the direction of the grate compression) and lengthwise (following the direction of force). A regression equation was derived to describe the relationship between the stress level in a row of ribs in the grate and the number of flexible segments of a lengthwise orientation placed in this row. It was found that, regardless of the distribution of the flexible segments in a row, the stress values were similar in all the ribs included in this row, and in a given row of the ribs/flexible segments a similar state of stress prevailed, irrespective of the position of this row in the whole structure of the grate and of the number of the ribs/flexible segments introduced therein. Parts of the grate responsible for the stress transfer were indicated and also parts which play the role of an element bonding the structure.
Various examples of the design of cast elements of the equipment used in furnaces for the heat treatment of machine parts are given. Shortcomings in their performance are indicated. Reasons for required stability of equipment are briefly discussed. Elements of equipment illustrate the possibilities of using a charge-carrying pallet with dimensions of 900×600×45 mm as a basis for multi-component technological equipment. Introducing additional elements, such as metal baskets, intermediate pallets or crossbars to the main pallet, it becomes possible to create different configurations of this equipment. The technological equipment presented and discussed here is offered to different plants which heat-treat a wide variety of produced parts. It was found that the reliability and durability of new designed equipment can be checked only during practical use. For large plants dealing with the heat treatment of bulk quantities of parts homogeneous or similar in shape is recommended to use the dedicated tooling.
The lifetime of guide grates in pusher furnaces for heat treatment could be increased by raising the flexibility of their structure through, for example, the replacement of straight ribs, parallel to the direction of grate movement, with more flexible segments. The deformability of grates with flexible segments arranged in two orientations, i.e. crosswise (perpendicular to the direction of compression) and lengthwise (parallel to the direction of compression), was examined. The compression process was simulated using SolidWorks Simulation program. Relevant regression equations were also derived describing the dependence of force inducing the grate deformation by 0.25 mm ‒ modulus of grate elasticity ‒ on the number of flexible segments in established orientations. These calculations were made in Statistica and Scilab programs. It has been demonstrated that, with the same number of segments, the crosswise orientation of flexible segments increases the grate structure flexibility in a more efficient way than the lengthwise orientation. It has also been proved that a crucial effect on the grate flexibility has only the quantity and orientation of segments (crosswise / lengthwise), while the exact position of segments changes the grate flexibility by less than 1%.