Tips to Help Avoid Heat Treatment Problems

14 February 2018

Numerous variables govern the heat treatment process. If one of those variables moves beyond an allowable error margin, the toughened and tempered workpiece will likely demonstrate a set of less than desirable physical characteristics. The dimensions of the part alter. It warps or develops a materially diminished structure. Other processing imperfections include uneven case hardening, structural brittleness, and more. Eliminate heat treatment problems by adhering to the following tips.

Avoid Common Preprocessing Pitfalls 

A sequentially managed preheat cycle is critical. The subject component must be evenly preheated. Following on from that tip, alloy equiaxing performs a similar function. Used to prevent workpiece warping, this normalizing stage ensures grain homogeneity.

Set Heating Boundaries in Stone 

Tough steel alloys withstand massive quantities of thermal energy. Still, they’re not invulnerable. Don’t overheat the alloy. Steel, the alloy we’ve chosen here as the industry mainstay, will incur damage at around 1200°C. That damage is reversible, but it takes time (lost productivity) to make the repair.

Use a Storage-Smart Production Plan 

Specialty coatings work best here as a product equalizing asset. The steel billets rest free from corrosion. No electromechanical reactions take place when the pretreated components are in contact, nor can any unsolicited environmental condition impact the technically precise nature of the heat treatment operation.

Logistically Maintained Selection Criteria 

Oil or water quenching stations are flushed and cleaned periodically. Meanwhile, within the furnace, a uniform thermal envelope is monitored and timed to ensure the fruition of a demanded set of mechanical and physical properties. Case hardened or structurally toughened, the output workpiece quenches and deposits in its allocated spot without any residual stress. Refer to the furnace heat charts when mapping this procedural operation.

Injecting Process Repeatability 

The furnace charts mesh with the quench substance and processing times to guarantee a fully heat treated component. Overheating errors and decarburization events are banished, residual stresses are cancelled, and the requisite surface finish is there, but what about the next object? Closely monitor the treatment run to ensure process repeatability. If the heat treatment technique delivers uneven results, initiate a maintenance check.

What common factor is shared by all of the above tips? Well, simply put, there’s not a single unknown variable in play during a heat treatment operation. Upper and lower furnace tolerances are identified, then we go deeper. We establish a signature thermal envelope by mapping the furnace charts. Then the precise nature of the quenching fluid is determined. Every single control element must be identified. Then, if there are still processing errors, it’s time to maintain the equipment.

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