What is Heat Treating? – A Galco TV Tech Tip

Heat treating is a process that uses
extreme temperatures to alter the physical properties of a material. Intentionally heating or cooling a specific material to a certain
temperature can harden it, soften it, or otherwise change the physical makeup of the material, so that it suits a particular purpose. Heat treating is most
commonly a part of a metallurgical process. Heating and cooling metal alloys
can strengthen the metal, soften it, harden it, enhance its electrical
conductivity, make it easier to machine, and more. The basics of any heat treat
regardless of the method used or purpose of the treatment involve heating the
metal beyond a critical temperature. A metal or metal alloy can have many
critical temperatures– Iron, for example, has four– and the properties of the material change at each point. After the material crosses the critical
temperature, the material is carefully cooled to maintain its new physical
properties. The rate at which the material is heated and cooled is also
important. Heating a material too quickly might cause the treatment to advance to
a critical temperature that you don’t want. Likewise, letting the material cool
down too slowly might cause it to lose the properties
that the treatment was intended to create. Many heat treat techniques exist
including annealing, quenching, tempering, carburizing, decarburizing, normalizing
and aging. Each process serves a specific purpose, and many are used in conjunction with one another to produce a desired result. Quenching a material, for example, rapidly
cools it down to produce a harder metal. This metal is often too brittle to be
useful, so it must be tempered, which is a process that reheats the metal to a temperature below its critical point. This relieves internal stress and adds
overall toughness to the material. To learn more about how Galco can assist you with your heat treat application, talk to our experts today!

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