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News ReleaseAir Products and Surface Combustion Combine to Answer MMS Thermal’s Heat Treat System Needs

January 16, 2007 Lehigh Valley, Pa.

All companies today are seeking an edge―a way to differentiate themselves from their competition. MMS Thermal Processing, LLC, a new metals heat treating company located in Davenport, Iowa, found that edge by taking advantage of the product offerings from the joint marketing effort of Air Products (NYSE: APD) and Surface Combustion, Inc. The result of this combined effort provided this recent entrant into the heat treat market with the most advanced heat treat system available today.

Air Products and Surface Combustion have a combined 140 years of experience in the global metals industry. Under their joint marketing agreement, they offer solutions that enable heat treat customers to reduce operating costs and enhance product quality and competitiveness. The two companies provide a complementary portfolio of integrated product offerings to the heat treat industry, including a variety of industrial gases, services, technologies, atmosphere generating equipment, thermal processing equipment and process-related know-how.

“Through collaboration with Surface Combustion, we can better serve our mutual customers with a broad range of heat treating atmosphere and equipment solutions,” said Stewart Stringer, Air Products’ Metals Industry marketing manager. “Our technology allows us to provide the nitrogen and gas handling systems to meet the needs of customers and monitor gas inventories—making it a full service solution. The customer can focus on production and not worry about its industrial gas supply.”

MMS Thermal purchased Surface Combustion’s new MultiChamber Vacuum Carburizing System utilizing VringCARB® technology and companion equipment. This new technology uses cyclohexane as the carburizing source. There are several benefits of using cyclohexane, traditionally used in the manufacture of nylon, in this novel application. Liquid cyclohexane is injected into the furnace hot zone producing a vapor distribution around the work load pieces, resulting in very uniform carburizing. Additionally, when compared to conventional hydrocarbons, cyclohexane has great resistance to thermal decay and greatly minimizes carbon drop-out in the furnace or on workloads. It is also a very clean carburizing process and results in a cleaner furnace chamber and carburized parts that are not discolored.

A nitrogen delivery system was necessary, and Air Products worked closely with Surface Combustion and MMS Thermal to meet the customer’s requirements. MMS needed gaseous nitrogen for its high pressure gas quench process and liquid nitrogen (minus 320 degree) for its cryogenic treatment process. To help MMS operate both processes as efficiently as possible, Air Products designed, installed and inspected the nitrogen systems. Air Products installed three house-lines—a high pressure line to operate at approximately 360 psi, a low pressure line to operate at 100 psi; and a vacuum jacketed line to handle the cryogenic liquid. To lower costs, a special high pressure vaporization system was installed. Air Products also installed a nitrogen supply monitoring safety system (Air Products NSMS system), which provides an alarm to the operator if the nitrogen supply system is unable to perform a safe purge of the furnaces in an emergency. MMS Thermal’s nitrogen tanks are also equipped with Air Products’ TELALERT® telemetry system, which connects the tanks through a phone line to Air Products’ product supply team and fleet dispatchers in Allentown, Pa. This team monitors customer gas use and the nitrogen tank levels to forecast optimized delivery schedules.

“Both Surface Combustion and Air Products have provided us with valuable technical assistance in the installation and start-up of the unit,” said Bob Zattau, sales manager for MMS Thermal. “We plan to use our expertise, along with that of Surface Combustion, Air Products, and our customers, to design unique solutions that reduce the total cost of manufacturing gears, shafts, bearings and other critical metal parts.”

Since 1915, Surface Combustion has been a leading manufacturer of thermal systems equipment used in metals processing and heat treating, with over 250,000 thermal systems installed worldwide in all areas of the metalworking industry. Meanwhile, Air Products has supplied industrial gases to customers who use this equipment through its atmosphere systems for more than 50 years.

About Air Products

Air Products (NYSE:APD) serves customers in industrial, energy, technology and healthcare markets worldwide with a unique portfolio of atmospheric gases, process and specialty gases, performance materials, and equipment and services. Founded in 1940, Air Products has built leading positions in key growth markets such as semiconductor materials, refinery hydrogen, home healthcare services, natural gas liquefaction, and advanced coatings and adhesives. The company is recognized for its innovative culture, operational excellence and commitment to safety and the environment and is listed in the Dow Jones Sustainability and FTSE4Good Indices. The company has annual revenues of $9 billion, operations in over 40 countries, and over 20,000 employees around the globe. For more information, visit

About Surface Combustion

Surface Combustion is a recognized leader in the heat treat furnace and associated equipment industry. The company has 90 years of experience in designing and manufacturing innovative and flexible systems for its customers’ specific processing needs. For more information, visit

About MMS Thermal

MMS Thermal Processing specializes in vacuum carburizing, a process that offers significant cost and quality improvements for most major manufacturing companies. This process is currently used by about 1 percent of the heat treat industry. By 2010, it's estimated that as much as 30 percent of the market will employ this technology. 

NOTE: This release may contain forward-looking statements. Actual results could vary materially, due to changes in current expectations. 

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