What Is Heat Treatment, and What Are the Benefits?

June 2, 2021 2:51 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

Metal is strong—but when your metal components and parts need to stand up to serious wear and tear, heat treatment is the best solution in Umatilla County, OR. Instead of using expensive, ultra-hard metals like titanium, you can use heat treatment to get your components up to speed. Here’s how it works.

What is heat treatment?

Different types of metals have specific physical properties—but when heat is applied, their physical structure can change. Heat treatments use carefully controlled heating and cooling techniques to change a metal’s crystalline structure. This can produce a variety of different effects, including hardening. That allows manufacturers to use less expensive metals but still recoup the best possible effects.

Some of the reasons you might use heat treatment include increasing strength, ductility and flexibility, improving hardness and resistance to wear, relieving stresses and brittleness and improving the metal’s electromagnetic properties. Steel is especially great for heat treatments, depending on how you intend to use each component.

Types of heat treatment

Here’s an overview of several of the most common types of heat treatment:

  • Hardening and tempering: Hardening is usually performed on steel, within a certain carbon range. To do this, a metal is heated to an extremely high temperature (at least over 900 degrees Celsius) and then quickly quenched (plunged in cool oil or water). The result is a lighter, stronger piece of metal that can resist wear and tear. In fact, martensitic stainless steel is only corrosion resistant when it’s been heat treated in a similar manner. Tempering is often the “second step.” It’s another heating and cooling process that’s used to make it more ductile and les likely to crack under pressure.
  • Annealing: Annealing is another method of heating and cooling metal, but the cooling process can be done either slowly or rapidly, depending on the desired effect. It’s usually used on alloys, and can improve a part’s machinability.
  • Case hardening: Case hardening adds nitrogen or carbon to a metal surface. This changes the exterior metal’s structure while retaining the same physical properties in the interior. This allows the exterior to be strong and wear resistant, while the interior is ductile and “soft.”
  • Induction hardening: Induction hardening in Umatilla County, OR uses induction heat and quenching to harden a metal. It’s often used for cast iron and steel. This heat treatment can be specifically targeted so that only certain parts of a component are heat treated.
  • Normalizing: Normalizing is used on ferrous metals only. The metal is heated to 40 degrees Celsius above its critical temperature. It’s then allowed to cool in the open air. The result is a toughened metal with uniform grain structure, where all stresses have been relieved.
  • Hot isostatic pressing: This heat treatment (HIP) uses high temperatures, inert gases and pressure to remove internal microporosity.

There are many different heat treatment types, including induction hardening, in Umatilla County, OR. For more information about the heat treatment services we offer, call N.W. Metal Fabricators, Inc. today. We can help you choose the right metallurgical methods to get the results you want.

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