The core principle of heat treatment in Gastonia, NC is to alter a metal’s properties in order to improve things like resilience, hardness, malleability and more. Often, however, heat treatments cannot be accomplished without the addition of alloying elements, designed to achieve the desired effect of the treatment and produce a piece of metal that’s proper for a specific final application. Alloying elements are added directly to carbon in order to act as catalysts for change.
Not all alloying elements achieve the same set of effects, however and in fact, many elements will induce different properties into a metal. As a result, metallurgists need specific knowledge of different alloying elements and what effect they’ll have during the heat treatment process. Take a look at the different classifications of alloying elements:
- Primary alloying elements: This group of elements are most commonly worked with and produce results that enhance varying grades of steel. Generally, they’re added at the molten metal stage to create refinement before things like tempering or annealing occurs. The primary alloying elements are most generally considered to be carbon, magnesium and silicon.
- Secondary alloying elements: Secondary alloying elements are most generally used in conjunction with primary alloying elements to achieve a higher degree of refinement in metals and are rarely used on their own. Most metallurgists will categorize the following elements into this group: copper, nickel, chromium, molybdenum, aluminum, vanadium, niobium, boron, cobalt and tungsten.
- Residual elements: A residual element requires no minimum content volume to produce a grade in a molten bath. What this also means is that residual elements can have both positive and negative impacts on metals, meaning they need to be worked with cautiously to achieve desired results and avoid unpredictable ones. Elements commonly found in this group include copper, nickel, chromium and molybdenum—sometimes cobalt and tungsten, depending on the metal and treatment.
- Tramp elements: “Tramp elements” is industry slang for residuals that have no positive effect on the outcome of a heat treatment in Gastonia, NC. Generally they have a negative impact on the process if found in even small amounts, making it important to control the batching to eliminate these elements: sulfur, phosphorus, lead, tin, antimony, zinc, cadmium and mercury.
Understanding the role alloying elements play in the process of heat treating is critical to understanding the outcomes—both desired and undesired—in the process. Knowing how to alter the properties of metals through the addition of an alloying element or two can dramatically increase the properties of a metal to make it suitable for any number of applications. Likewise, understanding which elements spell doom for the treatment process means knowing how to produce quality results with minimal adversities.
For a full and complete explanation of alloying elements and how they can impact a variety of heat treatments, be sure to speak with your metallurgist at J. F. Heat Treating Inc. regarding your unique heat treatment process and needs.