What Is Quenched and Tempered Steel?

Today’s steel manufacturing processes have evolved considerably past the relatively rudimentary processes used decades ago. Now, steel work is cleaner and more efficient than ever before, resulting in steel that is stronger, leaner and more workable. No longer do you have to sacrifice toughness and strength to get the weldability and workability you need for your steel materials—this is largely due to the rise of quenched and tempered steel, a specific subset of steel that offers outstanding strength and resistance to abrasion with some other enhanced fabrication qualities.

But what exactly is quenched and tempered steel, and why is it so beneficial? Here’s some information about quenching and tempering in Gastonia, NC.

An overview of the process

Quenching and tempering are two processes frequently paired together that serve to strengthen and harden materials, such as steel and various types of other iron-based alloys. During the process of quenching, the material gets heated up to a very high temperature and then rapidly cooled in either forced air, water, oil or nitrogen (or other inert gases). This is a very rigid and controlled process, as there are often very specific temperatures the metal must reach (and within a certain amount of time) to achieve the desired hardness. Factors that must be considered include the heating temperature, cooling method, cooling speed and cooling substance, all of which will be influenced by exactly how hard you need your material to be.

The tempering process comes after quenching, and adds even more toughness and some extra workability and ductility by decreasing the material’s hardness, ensuring it is less brittle. In the tempering process, the quenched material gets heated below the critical point for a certain amount of time, and is then cooled off in stilled air.

We’ve already mentioned the biggest benefits associated with the process: a less brittle and more ductile material. Tempering and quenching allows you to get those benefits without having to give up too much in terms of hardness. Ultimately, this produces a steel that is much more versatile and workable than carbon steel.

Greater toughness means a better resistance against abrasion and wear. This is why you so frequently see quenched and tempered steel used in structures or machinery where there’s a requirement for much greater yield strength and abrasion resistance, including steel used in industries such as construction and mining.

Here are just a few examples of some of the most common applications for quenched and tempered steel:

  • Storage tanks
  • Gear wheels
  • Cutting edges
  • Earthmoving buckets, as well as buckets for loaders and excavators
  • Bridges and high-rise buildings
  • Deflector plates
  • Low-loader trailers
  • Chutes
  • Dump truck wear liners

If you’re interested in learning more about the processes of quenching and tempering in Gastonia, NC, as well as the services we provide to our industrial clients, we encourage you to contact J.F. Heat Treating Inc. today with any questions you have and we will be happy to answer them. We look forward to discussing your next project with you soon!

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