How To Do Heat Treatments Can Deliver the Right Material
Heat treatment refers to the process of heating and cooling metal to attain desired features. At Creatingway, both ferrous and non-ferrous metals undergo heat treatment before using them. With time, there have been advances in the types of heat treatment processes. This is in an attempt to improve the cost-efficiency and outcomes of these processes. By squarely following the processes, we can produce metals with specific chemical and physical features. Here is an insight into how heat treatments can deliver the right material.
What Are the Benefits of Heat Treatments?
There are varying reasons why we carry out heat treatment. Some processes make the workpiece material soft while others are harder. These processes may also affect the heat and electrical conductivity of these materials. Heat treatment allows us to lower the stress arising from earlier cold working processes. It also confers desirable chemical features to metals.
Picking the right method often boils down to the type of material and the needed features. In other cases, the material may go through different heat treatment steps. For example, the superalloys we use in the aerospace sector may go through up to six heat treating steps. This helps us to optimize the material’s use. How heat treatments can deliver the right material is thus easy to see.
What Are the Steps in Heat Treatment Processes?
in heat treatment, we heat the material, hold it at that temperature and then cool it down. The material goes through changes in its mechanical features during the process. This is since the high temperatures alter the metal’s microstructure which determines its features. The final result will depend on an array of factors that include:
- Heating time
- Surrounding conditions
- Time of keeping the material at a specific temperature
- Cooling rate
With time, the materials’ features change. A few of these properties are hardness, ductility, brittleness, corrosion resistance, magnetism, and electrical resistance. How heat treatments can deliver the right material is thus evident.
Heating allows us to change the material’s microstructure. It takes place at a prescribed thermal profile. The material may exist in three different states during heating. These include a solid solution, a mechanical mixture, or both at the same time. In a solid solution, the components are in a uniform mixture.
It thus cannot be identified apart even through a microscope. Meanwhile, mechanical mixtures are similar to concrete mixes. Its components are identifiable as separate particles. The base metal holds together a mechanical mixture. Every state comes with different qualities, but cooling determines the final result. How heat treatments can deliver the right material becomes clearer further on.
During the soaking or holding stage, we keep the metal at the attained temperature. The length of time will depend on the material’s use. For instance, case hardening only needs structural changes in its metal surface to increase its surface hardness. Meanwhile, there are other methods that need uniform features. Their holding period is longer.
The holding time also depends on the part size and material type. Larger parts also require more time when we need to achieve uniform features. This is since it takes longer for the core of a larger part to achieve the needed temperature. How heat treatments can deliver the right material thus starts to get clearer.
We must cool the material in a prescribed way after completing the holding stage. The structural change also takes place during this stage. On cooling, a solid solution may stay the same, or become a mechanical mixture depending on an array of factors.
Varying media like forced air, oil, water, or brine control the rate of cooling. The named sequence of cooling media is increasing the order of effective cooling rate. Air absorbs heat the slowest while the brine is the fastest. We can also use furnaces during the cooling stage. The controlled environment enables high accuracy during slow cooling. How heat treatments can deliver the right material thus continues getting clearer.
What Are the Common Heat Treatment Methods?
There is an array of heat treatment methods to pick from with each bringing along specific features. A few of the common heat treatment methods include:
During this process, we first heat the metal beyond the upper critical temperature. Afterward, we cool it at a slow rate. Annealing helps us to soften the metal thus making it more ideal for forming and cold working. The process also improves the material’s ductility, machinability, and toughness. Annealing is quite useful in relieving stress parts that have been through prior cold working processes.
We use normalizing to relieve materials of internal stress arising from casting, welding, or quenching. In this method, we heat the metal to 40 degrees Celsius above the critical temperature. This temperature is higher than the one we use in annealing. Afterward, we soak it at this temperature for a specific timeframe and then cool it in the air. Normalizing helps us achieve a uniform composition and grain size in the entire part.
Hardening is one of the most common heat treatment methods. It helps us to increase the hardness of a material. We harden the workpiece by heating it to a specific temperature and then rapidly cooling it by submerging it into a medium. The final part will thus have enhanced strength and hardness.
Heat treatment comes with an array of benefits if done properly. By working with Creatingway, you stand to benefit from how heat treatments can deliver the right material. Contact us now and get started on your next project.
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