Stress Relieving is Insurance for Engineering Projects

08 December 2016

Large-scale engineering projects use machined metal components to support structural loads. They accomplish this task by accessing the strength of a selected alloy. Unfortunately, strength isn’t the only attribute contained within the metal. The worked part also contains undesirable properties, those incurred by numerous machine stations. Residual stress is the issue. Worryingly, if left unchecked, ingrained stress will undermine structural integrity, so how do we defuse this situation?

The Mechanics of Unconditional Fabrication 

Fortunately, stress relieving is used as insurance for engineering projects. The process works on the base steel material to eliminate stored kinetic energy and stop that energy from undermining the stability factor that’s mandated by structural engineering science. The disciplines referenced here include vessel design and civil engineering projects.

A Mechanical Insurance Policy 

When residual stresses are removed from machined frames, potential energy is leeched out of the steel. It regains its anchor-like constitution and will never deform or flex. That’s an essential attribute, one that must be instituted within the foundations of a stable structure if it’s to stand stress-free. In underscoring this mandate, it’s absolutely imperative that we employ this heat treatment process when machining final precision surfaces on load-bearing frames.

Zeroing Incurred Stress 

Structures are naturally designed to cope with compressible forces, loads that push downward. Energy is then added to this scenario by waves of shearing power. None of this energy causes concern because engineers and architects have built the metal frame to withstand these forces. Residual stresses throw off these calculations and push the building dangerously towards its design limitations, which is why this stored energy must be zeroed out and eliminated.

Heat Treatment and Bar Profiles 

Formed flat bars readily weld, as do machined round bars. They imbue the structure and its associated frame components with resolute strength. Next, die blocks deliver a detailed profile, one that typically stores more stress, so stress relieving is required if the accumulated deformation energy is to be moderated after a strenuous long run hot die process. The heavy gauge metal alleviation technique then works on the die during its scheduled downtime period as a carefully calibrated maintenance operation.

Stress relieving does work as an insurance policy, one that guarantees structural strength, but the technique goes deeper. Rough cut movement is reduced in material blanks. Welds in rolled metal vessel sections become movement-free and deformation agnostic, so weldment embrittlement is a non-issue during tempering work. Finally, we’ve used steel as an exemplary subject metal, but stress relieving techniques also work proficiently in extruded brass, aluminium, and other non-ferrous alloys as a crack prevention mechanism and a stress reduction aid.

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