Whether you are new to the metallurgy industry, are in need of help from a metallurgist or simply find that it’s a fascinating subject, the key thing to remember is the fact that the metal does not resemble any type of functioning part when it’s extracted from its ore. However, a metal or metal alloy can be worked into the exact form you are after, and heat treatment is a part of the process.
So, how do you prepare steel for heat treatment in Gastonia, NC? Let’s take a look at some important information about heat treatment and how the process works.
What is heat treatment?
When a metal or alloy is heat treated, its microstructure changes. This step can be applied to a project either after casting or during or after metal fabrication has taken place. But why is the heat treatment process so important in metalworking? It’s because the properties of the metal—including strength, toughness, hardness and ability of a component or object to keep its form under stress, as well as being resistant to corrosion—rely on microstructure. Heat treatment affects all these properties, while the material gets stronger.
Simply put, a professional knows that heat treating is a controlled process that alters the metal’s properties without changing the product’s shape. Experts use specialized equipment and industry-wide standards to conduct their heat treating services.
How does the heat treatment process work?
The basic process of steel heat treatment falls into three categories, each with its own steps—homogenization (making a part uniform after it has been cast), annealing and age hardening. When it comes to steel, you might want it soft to shape or heat treated so it can be hardened.
To get a better understanding of the heat treatment steps and processes that a trained metallurgist follows when working with steel, let’s look at hardening and tempering:
- Hardening: The temperature of the steel needs to be brought up to an ideal heating temperature, then quenched. To quench hot steel means to cool it as fast as possible so the structure of the object is frozen in place. The approximate crucial temperature is 1500 degrees Fahrenheit. This high heat makes sure the steel hardens properly, instead of underheating (in which case it won’t fully harden) or overheating (which will cause the form to enlarge, thus weakening it).
- Tempering: This is when steel is heated up once more at a lower temperature. The tempering heat depends on the type of steel used. The goal is to get the temperature just right to remove much of the stress to keep a form from becoming brittle and weak, while still keeping it low enough that the right level of hardness sticks around.
Be it heat treatment in Gastonia, NC or another metalworking service you need in order to complete a repair or fabrication project, you can trust the work of the team at J.F. Heat Treating Inc. Contact us today to schedule a service appointment or learn more about what we have to offer!