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Engineering - Audel Automated Machines & Toolmaking, 5th Edition - Wiley 2004

Engineering - Audel Automated Machines & Toolmaking, 5th Edition - Wiley 2004

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Steel can be heated most successfully by placing it in a cold furnace
and then bringing the furnace and its charge to the hardening
temperature slowly and uniformly. Commercially, only those steels
that are difficult to harden are heat-treated in the manner described
previously. For example, some tool steels are heated for hardening
by first placing them in a preheating furnace at a temperature of
1000°F (537.77°C) or slightly lower. After the steel is heated uni-
formly to furnace temperature, it is withdrawn and placed in the
high-heat furnace at the hardening temperature. When the steel has
become heated uniformly at the hardening temperature, it is then
quenched to harden it.

Annealing,Hardening,and Tempering321

322Chapter 11

During the heating process, the metal absorbs heat, and its tem-
perature rises until the point of decalescence is reached. At this
point, additional heat is taken up by the metal. This heat is con-
verted into work to change the pearlite into austenite without an
increase in temperature until the process is completed.
This phenomenon can be compared to the latent heat of steamin
that when the temperature of water is increased to the boiling
point, it will absorb an additional quantity of heat without an
increase in temperature. The heat is converted into work that is
necessary:

•To bring about a change of state from a liquid to a gas.

•To overcome the pressure of the atmosphere in making room
for the steam.

The total latent heat required to bring about these changes consists
of internallatent heat and externallatent heat.
After the metal has been heated, quenchingserves to fix perma-
nently the structural change in the metal that causes the metal to
remain hard after it has been heated to the point of decalescence. If
the metal were not quenched and allowed to cool slowly, the
austenite would be reconverted to pearlite as the temperature
decreases, causing the metal to lose its hardness. When steel is
cooled faster than its critical cooling rate, which is the purpose of
quenching, a new structure is formed. The austenite is transformed
into martensite, which has an angular, needlelike structure and a
very high hardness.
Martensite has a lower density than austenite. Therefore, the
steel will increase in volume when quenched. Some of the austenite
will not be transformed during quenching. This austenite will grad-
ually change into martensite over a period of time. This change is
known as “ageing.” This “ageing” results in an increased volume,
which is objectionable in many items, such as gages. The cold-
treating process (discussed in Chapter 15) can be used to eliminate
this problem.

The experienced worker can determine the critical point (point
of decalescence) on the basis of color. The heated metal should be
transferred to a dark place to judge color. Also, metal bars will
decrease in length when quenched at a temperature below the crit-
ical point in water. If a metal bar is quenched in water at a tem-
perature above the critical point, hardening also will be indicated.
Pyrometers are used in production work to indicate the critical
temperature if the critical temperature of a given steel is known.

A magnetic needle can be used to determine whether steel has
been heated above the critical point. When heated above the crit-
ical point, a piece of steel loses its magnetism. It will attract a
magnetic needle if it has been heated to any temperature below
the critical point. In making the test with a magnetic needle, the
magnetic influence of the cold tongs should be eliminated. A piv-
oted bar magnet can be introduced into the furnace momentarily
to determine the presence or absence of magnetism in the piece of
steel.

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