Heat Treatment of Steel Workpieces

10 March 2023

Metal parts and products have been dominating a wide range of industries due to the benefits they bring. They are durable and robust, allowing them to last for a long time. They can also be customised, which grants industries the opportunity to maximise them based on their needs.

But before these parts and products can be distributed to the end-users, a lot of them must undergo heat treatment first. Heat treatment is a process wherein metals are heated and cooled using a wide array of methods, making sure that they obtain the desired properties of the clients. Manufacturers can subject ferrous and non-ferrous metals to heat treatment, as long as the right methods are maximised.

Primary Benefits of Heat Treatment

Tons of benefits are expected with heat treatment. First, it can alter the properties of the metal workpieces. Some methods can boost the hardness of the metals. Others, alternatively, can make the materials soft. Heat treatment methods can likewise affect the heat and electrical conductivity of select metal materials.

Another benefit of heat treatment is it can relieve stresses on metal materials. Metal materials can experience stress whenever they are subjected to a load or force. These instances can then distort or deform them. Heat treatment methods, fortunately, do not introduce stresses to the materials. Instead, they ensure that the workpieces will remain as intact as possible.

Other improvements expected with heat treatment include enhanced strength, improved wear resistance, and reduced brittleness.

Heat Treatment Common Methods

A wide array of heat treatment methods can be applied to various metals.

One of these methods is annealing. In this method, metal materials are heated beyond their upper critical temperature. They are then cooled slowly. The primary purpose of annealing is to soften the metal materials, allowing them to be workable for forming and cold working. It can also improve the ductility, machinability, and toughness of the materials.

Hardening is another heat treatment method that can be applied to metals. This method is carried out to enhance the hardness of metal workpieces. It is done by heating the metals to a specified temperature before cooling them rapidly. The cooling part is done by submerging them into a cooling medium like brine, oil, and water.

Stress relieving and tempering are two more methods that can be done to metals. Stress relieving is carried out by subjecting metals to a temperature below their lower critical limit. They are then cooled slowly. Its main purpose is to relieve stresses that may have been obtained by the metals due to past processes like machining, rolling, and others Tempering, ultimately, is a process that can reduce excess hardness obtained during hardening.

The Essence of Heat Treating Steel

Steel is considered to be one of the most common metal materials globally. It is an alloy made from iron and other elements. These elements include aluminium, carbon, manganese, oxygen, nitrogen, phosphorus, sulphur, and silicone. The ratio of these elements can often determine the hardness, flexibility, durability, and other steel properties.

The primary reason steel should be heat treated is it is often used in a wide range of applications. Since not all applications are similar, steel workpieces may have to boast various qualities. Heat treating, fortunately, can alter the mechanical properties of steel based on one’s needs. Some methods used for processing steel are annealing, quenching, tempering, and hardening. To help you process steel, you can contact us at Alpha Detroit Heat Treatment.

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