Heat treatment is a process most commonly used to either strengthen or alter the structure of certain materials through heating and cooling. When the process is complete, it may have altered the material’s physical properties in a way that helps with other steps of a manufacturing process.
For example, a metal item that has been heat treated may no longer have certain stresses associated with it, making it easier to weld or machine while also enhancing its long-term strength, making it a more reliable and valuable part.
The heat treatments used vary depending on the type of metal and the certain mechanical properties required for that part to function properly. In general, though, the procedures of these various types of heat treatments must be followed exactly to ensure the resulting metal product meets the specified strength requirements for its application.
Here are a few examples of basic heat treatments in Gastonia, NC to give an idea of what goes into the heat treating process:
- Annealing/solution annealing: In this type of treatment, materials get heated to a specific temperature, at which they are held for a certain amount of time before that material goes through either a slow or rapid cooling process (depending on the material being treated). This process refines the structure of the grains, making it easier to work with overall. Solution annealing heat treatments are most commonly used with stainless steels to improve resistance to corrosion and ductility. These are common processes used in metallurgy.
- Hardening and tempering: Steels of a certain carbon range can be hardened by heating the material to over 900 degrees Celsius before rapidly cooling it or quenching it. An additional heating and cooling cycle, referred to as “tempering,” can then be used to add some ductility to the piece of metal, which makes it tougher and better able to stand up to rough heavy loads. This is an extremely important treatment in the steel pipe industry, as it makes them safe for use as water, gas or oil pipelines.
- Hot isostatic pressing (HIP): This treatment uses inert gases like argon along with high temperatures and pressure to deform plastic while also allowing for diffusion and creep. It is typically performed to remove microporosity, which improves the part’s mechanical properties by compressing any gas that would otherwise be present inside the part. HIP is ideal for any metal, particularly applications such as components and engines for aircraft.
- Case hardening: Some objects are best made with a “soft” ductile core and a hard, wear-resistant exterior. Under high temperatures, carbon can be added up to a specific depth, and when the parts are heat treated afterward, only the outer case becomes hard.
These are just a few examples of heat treatments in Gastonia, NC. For more information about the services we provide and the applications for which you can use heat-treated parts, we encourage you to reach out to us today at J.F. Heat Treating Inc. We look forward to working with you.