Raw ferrous and non-ferrous metal materials must be handled and processed properly to ensure that they can be utilised in a wide array of applications. And to achieve this, manufacturers must apply and conduct specific heat treatment methods so that these materials can sustain remarkable properties.
The continuous improvements over the heat treatment methods have allowed metallurgists to come up with metal materials that are cost-efficient and long-lasting. When conducted properly, these metal materials can certainly attain physical and chemical properties that can make them useful in the long run. Heat treatment methods can specifically relieve stress, making the metal materials easier to process. They can also generate metal materials that are sturdy, strong, flexible, and wear resistant.
Basic Properties of Non-Ferrous Metals
One type of metal materials that can be processed by manufacturers is non-ferrous metal. Non-ferrous metals are metals or alloys that do not contain iron in huge amounts, making them softer and more malleable. Other properties that non-ferrous metals contain include high corrosion resistance, low density, and excellent thermal and electrical conductivity. They are also easy to fabricate and non-magnetic. All these properties allow these metals to be useful in a lot of applications.
A lot of popular metals and alloys are part of the non-ferrous classification. One of these is copper. Copper, with the integration of alloys brass and bronze, has been useful in generating mechanical components and devices that are intended for industrial applications. Another non-ferrous metal that is popular nowadays is aluminium due to its lightweight, high ductility, and corrosion resistant. This type of metal has been very useful in creating automotive parts, consumer electronics, and household components. Lead and zinc are likewise part of the non-ferrous metal category.
Heat Treatment of Non-Ferrous Metals
Numerous heat treatment methods can be conducted on non-ferrous metals. Two of these methods are solution heat treating and annealing.
Solution heat treatment is the heating of non-ferrous metal or alloy to an appropriate temperature, holding it for a specific time until one or more of its elements enter into a solid solution. Subsequently, the whole non-ferrous metal or alloy is cooled rapidly or quenched so that the elements will be held effectively. To ensure that the metal or alloy will not revert to its original configuration, aging and precipitation hardening will be consequently conducted. These steps help the non-ferrous metal attain greater tensile strength.
Annealing, alternatively, is conducted to boost the ductility of the non-ferrous metal or alloy and, at the same time, reduce its overall hardness. This process can be conducted in metals or alloys that are still heat-treatable. During the annealing process, the metal or alloy is subjected to heat at a certain temperature. Subsequently, the metal or alloy will be cooled slowly to room temperature. The slow cooling process of annealing allows the metal or alloy to generate a refined microstructure.
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