Annealing is an essential part of heat treatment, especially in the machining and tooling industries. Like other types of heat treatment, it changes the properties of steel in preparation for its final application. However, annealing in Gastonia, NC offers unique elements that turn even the most stubborn and resistant steel into a useful form. Here is an explanation of this process and its benefits, so you can see how it can benefit your shop or manufacturing outfit.
The annealing process
Annealing is a thermal toughening technique. It raises the temperature of steel near the melting point and then cools it, causing the steel to re-crystalize. This process can show its necessity in one of two scenarios.
The first arises when steel is worked cold and shaped in the factory before moving on to the tooling phase, only to discover it is difficult to mold. Annealing heats it to soften the alloy, which reduces the brittleness and stress. That allows it to be machined again. Sometimes, the difficulty in working with particular steel is noticed before the cooling stage. Under this circumstance, if the steel cools naturally from white hot to room temperature, annealing can intervene early so the steel is prepared for the cold formation stage. It all depends upon the individual properties of the steel involved to determine proper detection and the need for annealing.
Annealing may be recommended for harder steels that are resistant to tooling and machining. While these hard materials are naturally assumed to be stronger, in reality they stand up to change very poorly. That property makes it impossible to manufacture it into tools, machine parts and other items, so annealing becomes necessary to change the steel’s character and make it more useful. Annealing is basically a process that allows steel to withstand change.
Cold working and machining add stress to the steel and leaves it vulnerable to failure as it is worked through each stage. Annealing works by changing the steel at the microscopic level through softening and hardening. This changes steel composition but also makes it more malleable. The result is a steel that withstands further machining and manipulation, so it is more likely to become a final product without risking failure.
Annealed steel offers improved mechanical properties and machining abilities. It pretty much becomes a completely new material once it’s undergone that process.
The steel will also lose most of its defects after annealing. Cosmetic defects, like the “orange peel” effect, will be gone. Also, with changes being made to the steel down to the molecular level, it can take on a new shape without sustaining any additional defects. There will be no signs that it was once difficult to work with the material. In fact, the end result is a tool or part that is nearly flawless.
J.F. Heat Treating, Inc. is available for annealing in Gastonia, NC and other methods of heat treatment. Call us today to see how we can help your steel work better for you.