Transforming Metal Through Heat: How Heat Treating Affects Metal and Why It Applies to You - Akron Steel Treating



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Transforming Metal Through Heat: How Heat Treating Affects Metal and Why It Applies to You

July 22, 2021

Heat treating may sound like a “finishing touch” or an afterthought, but it is actually an integral part of the manufacturing process. In fact, without proper heat treating, your product, parts, and process will not perform at their highest level of safety and quality. Here are some heat treating basics: the whats, hows, and—most importantly for your business—the whys.

What is Heat Treating?

Despite its name, heat treating is the controlled process of heating and cooling solid metals in order to help them better withstand wear and tear. After heat brings a metal or alloy to a specific temperature, the material is allowed to cool down and harden to produce a desired change in the treated part’s metallurgical structure.  

How Does Heat Treating Change Metal?

Heat treating can change the structure of metal in a variety of ways, whether making it softer and more uniform for better machinability; changing its hardness for strength, ductility, and wear resistance; or creating a desired stress state (usually compressive or neutral). Methods may include any of the following:

  • Hardening: Heats the metal to a point in which the materials transform into a solution. At this point, defects can be removed, creating a more reliable solution that cools to increase the hardness of the metal or alloy. 
  • Annealing: Used on metals like copper, aluminum, silver, steel, and brass, annealing heats materials to a certain temperature and allows them to slowly air dry, leaving them softer and more malleable.
  • Tempering: Reduces brittleness while retaining hardness in hard metals such as iron by heating to a temperature lower than the critical point.
  • Case Hardening: Hardens the outside of the material while keeping the inside soft. This process is optimal for materials that require flexibility while maintaining a durable wear layer. 
  • Normalization: Similar to annealing, this process makes steel tougher and more ductile by heating it to critical temperatures which are maintained until transformation occurs. 

How Can Heat Treating Improve My Product, Parts, or Process? 

The ability to control a metal’s properties during the manufacturing process directly impacts your product’s or part’s machinability and performance. Heat treating metals upfront helps prevent corrosion so you don’t have to replace expensive metal parts as frequently, if at all. When your machines run more efficiently, you’re able to focus on your process with confidence that you’ve set up your system for safety and success. 

Do you have any questions about heat treating your part? Contact us at Akron Steel Treating and let us help you through the process. 

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Akron Steel Treating Company

336 Morgan Avenue, Akron, OH 44311
P.O. Box 2290, Akron, OH 44309-2290
We deliver within Ohio. 

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Phone: 330-773-8211 
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