The Processes of Metal Heat Treatment

29 February 2016

What is Heat Treatment?

A process whereby an unrefined metal product is taken through a range of intelligently managed heating and cooling stages. Each processing step modifies specific characteristics, removing stresses from the metal. Machinability is improved, as is mechanical strength and other key metallurgical attributes.

Metal Hardening

The incorporation of pure solidity, a densely locked crystalline structure is the object of this initial process. The metal is superheated to its critical transformation point then rapidly cooled by quenching the part in a water or oil bath. The resulting metal embodies hardness, but this hardness factor also carries some caveats, including brittleness.

The Tempering Process

Specially developed low-temperature furnaces (approximately 150ºC to 650ºC) are employed at this stage to reduce alloy hardness. Strength is incorporated into the component, ductility and machinability increases, and hardness-induced brittleness is eliminated. The temperature approaches the stated equilibrium point of the alloy and is held there for a set period until the final properties of the alloy are achieved.

Adding the Brush Strokes of Detail

In saying metal heat treatment science hardens and tempers a part or series of parts would be a disservice to the manufacturing facilities that produce these refined metals. Immense furnaces and crucibles purify the ore and inject the metal with precise percentages of additives, carbon and chromium among them. The process also includes annealing, the gradual softening of the metal to form a targeted microstructure. Chemical processes then use salt baths and pack cementation to infuse the metal with a greater carbon content or alter the surface finish.

State-of-the-art technological solutions partner with old-world techniques to form modern metal heat treatment cycles. The formed product is hardened and tempered by precision automated systems, logic gate controlled vacuum heat management stations that incorporate oil quenching baths. Induction hardening evenly distributes heat throughout the complex geometrical outline of carbon steel components, guaranteeing uniform strength and structural consistency. Finally, the part is delivered to equally advance processing stations, case hardening and tempering facilities that gift the parts with specific characteristics as set by demanding clients.

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