When you hear the term “heat treating,” what comes to mind? Perhaps you think of a heating pad on a sore knee, or gum-soothing ointments placed near aching teeth. While these may involve some form of “heat treatment,” heat treating in Gastonia, NC is quite different.
This term refers to a method of treating metal. One of the main components of this treatment is metal quenching. Let’s take a closer look at this process to gain a better understanding of exactly what it is.
Metal Quenching Defined
Quenching is a technique that metalworkers use as part of heat treating in Gastonia, NC. After they have exposed the metal to extremely high heat, the metal must be restored to room temperature quickly to maintain its microstructure and strength. This is where quenching comes in. This is the process of rapidly bringing the metal back to normal temperature.
Methods of Metal Quenching
Various agents are used for the quenching process, depending on the heat treatment method used and the desired results. The most common method is to plunge the metal into a liquid, which quickly cools the material. This liquid might be water or oil. As the metal is inserted into the liquid, the quenching produces a lot of steam, which the metalworker must monitor and work with to avoid pockets of air in the mixture.
Pros and Cons of Metal Quenching
Water is often used for quenching during heat treating in Gastonia, NC. It is readily available and offers a simple and effective option. Water can cool the metal very quickly and achieve a top level of hardness. However, water does have a few drawbacks when it comes to quenching. This method can lead to distortion of the metal, as well as cracking. If this happens, the material becomes compromised and may end up useless.
Oils such as mineral or cottonseed are also frequently used for quenching. These can be chosen based on the quenching speed desired. Slower cooling can result in a change to the microstructure of the metal.
Air convection can also be used for quenching. Additional methods include saltwater and polymers. Again, the method used is typically chosen based on how the metalworker would like to enhance the metal and what it will be used for. For example, a weapon must be forged differently than the bolt for a railroad track. Quenching allows the metalworker to produce a metal that offers the qualities required for a specific product.
Where It’s Done
Have you ever seen a blacksmith in action? When you picture metal working, quenching and heat treating in Gastonia, NC, your mind may bring up images of a lone village worker clanking away in his barn-like shop to make horseshoes and carriage parts. Today’s metallurgists look quite different. The experts at J. F. Heat Treating Inc. use innovative methods based on time-tested processes to produce top-quality materials. Our heat treating services include annealing, aging, quenching and tempering to soften, harden, stress relieve, remove contaminants or provide other material characteristics to parts and components. Contact our knowledgeable team today to learn more about this exciting industry.