HERMITAGE, Pa. (WKBN) – The world’s largest commercial vacuum heat treatment machine has made its home at the Solar Atmospheres plant in Hermitage.
Thursday, a dedication ceremony was held for the furnace, which heat treats nuclear power piping while maintaining their high-quality properties. The vacuum prevents heat loss and removes contamination while heating materials to very high temperatures.
“Zero atmosphere, no oxygen, so parts go in very clean and they come out very clean,” said Robert Hill, president of Solar Atmospheres.
A few expansions through the last 15 years have led to this furnace. It operates at more than 2,000 degrees and has a capacity of 150,000 pounds of material.
“Because of the titanium world around us, the three major producers of titanium are in northeast Ohio and western Pennsylvania, so we strategically located this company here 15 years ago,” Hill said.
Solar Atmospheres serves 18 different industries, including power generation, medical and aerospace. The 48-foot-long vacuum furnace is housed in the expanded 20,000 square foot plant. It serves the growing nuclear tubing demand and helps out Hermitage.
“Some of the hardest-working people anywhere in western Pa. are right here in Hermitage. The city has been wonderful for us,” Hill said.
Kim Thomas, the regional director at the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, said the economic impact of the $10 million addition is great for the Hermitage area, too.
“Anytime we are able to see our manufacturers expand and grow and create those jobs and bring people to the region. It certainly helps, not only for the region, but for the state as well.”