What is heat treatment

Tags: heat treatment, heat treatment process, what is heat treatment process, all about heat treatment process, types of heat treatment processes, Annealing, Normalizing, Quenching, Hardening, Tempering, Surface Hardening, Case Hardening, Austempering, Martempering, Marquenching, Ausforming


Heat Treatment

- Heat treatment process is a series of operations involving the “Heating and Cooling” of metals in the solid state.
- Its purpose is to change a mechanical property or combination of mechanical properties so that the metal will be more useful, serviceable and safe for definite purpose.
- By heat treating, a metal can be made harder, stronger, and more resistant to impact, heat treatment can also make a metal softer and more ductile.

Types of Heat Treatment

1). Annealing
2). Normalizing
3). Quenching or Hardening
4). Case Hardening
5). Austempering
6). Tempering
7). Surface Hardening
8). Martempering (Marquenching)
9). Ausforming

1). Annealing

- Annealing is the process for softening materials or to bring about required changes in properties, such as machinability, mechanical or electrical properties, or dimensional stability.
- The annealing process consists of heating the steel to or near the critical temperature (temperature at which crystalline phase change occurs) to make it suitable for fabrication.
- A material can be annealed by heating it to specific temperature and then letting the material slowly cool to room temperature in an oven.
- When an annealed part is allowed to cool in the furnace, it is called a “full anneal” heat treatment.

2). Normalizing

- It is a type of heat treatment applicable for ferrous metals only.
- It differs from annealing in that the metal is heated to a higher temperature and then removed from the furnace for air cooling.
- The purpose of normalizing is to remove the internal stress induced by heat treating, welding, casting, forging, forming or machining.
- Normalizing is used in some plate mills, in the production of large forging  such as rail road wheels and axles, some bar products. The process is less expensive than annealing.

3). Quenching or Hardening

- It is done to increase the strength and wear properties. One of the prerequisite for hardening is sufficient carbon and alloy content.
- To harden by quenching, a metal (usually steel or cast iron) must be heated into the austenitic crystal phase and then quickly cooled.
- Depending on the alloy and other considerations (such as concern for maximum hardness vs. cracking and distortion), cooling may be done with forced air or other gas (such as nitrogen), oil, polymer dissolved in water or brine.
- One drawback of using this method by itself is that the metal becomes brittle. This treatment is therefore typically followed by a tempering process which is a heating process at another lower specific temperature to stress relieve the material and minimize the brittleness problem.

4). Case Hardening

- Case hardening is the process of hardening the surface of a metal, often a low carbon steel, by infusing elements into the material’s surface, forming a thin layer of a harder alloy.
- Case hardening improves the wear resistance of a machine parts without affecting the tough interior of the parts.

5). Austempering

- Austempering is heat treatment that is applied to ferrous metals, most notably steel and ductile iron.
- In steel it produces a bainite microstructure whereas in cast iron it produces a structure of acicular ferrite and high carbon, stabilized austenite known as ausferrite.
- It is primarily used to improve mechanical properties or reduce/ eliminate distortion.

6). Tempering

- Tempering is carried out by preheating previously quenched or normalized steel to a temperature below the critical range, holding, and then cooling to obtain the desired mechanical properties.
- Tempering is used to reduce the brittleness of quenched steel.
- The temperature chosen for the tempering process directly impacts the hardness of a work piece. The higher the temperature in the tempering process, the lower the hardness.

7). Surface Hardening

- Surface hardening, treatment of steel by heat or mechanical means to increase the hardness of the outer surface while the core remains relatively soft.
- Surface hardened steel is also valued for its low and superior flexibility in manufacturing.
- The oldest surface hardening method is carburizing, in which steel is placed at high temperature for several hours in a carbonaceous environment. The carbon diffuses into the surface of the steel, rendering it harder.
- Another method of surface hardening, called nitriding, utilizes nitrogen and heat. Cam shafts, fuel injection pumps, and valve stems are typically hardened by this process.
- Flame hardening and induction hardening, in which high heat is applied for a short time (by gas flame or high-frequency electric current, respectively) and then the steel is immediately quenched, are used generally for larger implements.
- Mechanical means of hardening the surface of steel parts include peening, which is the hammering of the heated surface, as by iron pellets shot onto the surface by air blasting, and cold working, which consists of a rolling, hammering, or drawing at temperatures that do not affect the composition of the steel.

8). Martempering (Marquenching)

- To overcome the restrictions of conventional quenching and tempering, Martempering  process can be used.
- Martempering (Marquenching) permits the transformation of Austenite to Martensite to take place at the same time throughout the structure of metal parts.
- Residual stresses developed during Martempering are lower than those developed during conventional quenching.
- Martempering also reduces or eliminates susceptibility to cracking.
- Another advantage of Martempering in molten salt is the control of surface carburizing or decarburizing.

9). Ausforming

- Ausforming also known as low and high temperature thermomechanical treatment is a method used to increase the hardness and stubbornness of an ally by simultaneously tempering, rapid cooling, deforming and quenching to change its shape and refine the microstructure.

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  2. Thank you very much for sharing this useful information. I was doing a project and for that I was looking for related information. Some of the points are very useful. Do share some more material if you have.
    cold forming process