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Heat Treatment of Metals

Heat Treatment
 Metallic materials consist of a microstructure of

small crystals  Crystals in a specific orientation make grains  Grain size and composition is one of the most effective factors that can determine the overall mechanical behavior of the metal  Heat treatment provides an efficient way to manipulate the properties of the metal by controlling rate of diffusion, and the rate of cooling and grain size and composition within the microstructure

Heat Treatment (contd)

 Involves controlled heating and cooling of the

metal or alloy  This imparts desirable physical characteristics due to change in microstructure  Improvements
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Toughness Hardness Resistance to shock Fatigue resistance

 Two broad categories o Heat treatment of ferrous metals o Heat treatment of non ferrous metals

Heat Treatment (contd)

 Steel and its alloys are hardenable  Aluminum, magnesium, copper, beryllium and

titanium alloys can also be heat treated  Metal is heated to pre determined temperature and then quenched (cooling)  For quenching water, oil, brine, liquid nitrogen or air blast is used  Heat treatment may consist of more than one cycle

Heat Treatment (contd)

 Carbon steel and its alloys heat treatment is

governed by carbon content. Approximately above 0.35% carbon steel is heat treatable  Wrought and cast Aluminum alloys which are precipitation-hardenable are termed as heat treatable  Non heat-treatable alloys depend primarily on cold work to increase strength  Heating to decrease strength and increase ductility (annealing) is used for both heat treatable and non heat treatable alloys

Steel Heat Treatment Processes

 Six basic types of processes o Stress relieving o Hardening o Annealing o Case hardening o Surface hardening o Tempering

Stress Relieving-Steel
 Relieves the stresses developed in parts    

due to cold work, machining or welding Parts heated to below critical temperature 1100-1200F Held at this temperature for 1 hr per inch of thickness Cooled slowly in still air at room temperature or in furnace

Phase Diagram (Understanding Heat Treatment)

 Part is heated to pre determined temperature- Critical

Temperature  Temperature at which steel will harden is called its critical temperature  Critical temperature depends on the type of alloy and carbon content (1400-2400F)  After heating part is quenched in brine, water, oil or air blast
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Water or brine is used to quench plain carbon steel Oil used to quench alloy steels Cold air blast is used for high alloy steel

 Quenching leaves the steel hard and brittle, this

brittleness needs to be reduced by Tempering or Drawing

Phase Diagram (Understanding Heat Treatment)

Hardening Temperatures Carbon Steel

Tempering or Drawing
 Process reduces some of the brittleness of 


hardened part Part is heated below critical temperature (3001300F) and held until complete penetration is achieved Cooling is done in still air Internal stresses are relieved Toughness and impact resistance increases Hardness and strength reduces

Phase Diagram (Understanding Heat Treatment)

 Annealing reduces the hardness of the part to    

make it easy to machine or work Metal is heated to 50-100F above its critical temperature (normal hardening temperature) Holding time depends upon the shape and thickness of the piece Slow cooling is performed in some insulating material such as ashes or a furnace Primarily used for ferrous metals, but non ferrous metals can also be annealed after they become work hardened


 Process closely related to Annealing  Metal; heated slightly above its upper

critical temperature  Then cooled slowly to room temperature  Relieves stresses developed during
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Machining Welding Forming

Case Hardening
 Low carbon steel cannot be effectively hardened

by conventional heat treatment  Part is heated to red heat and small quantity of carbon or nitrogen is introduced in its surface  This produces a hard shell on the surface  Following three methods
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Pack method or carburizing Liquid salt method Gas method

Pack Method or Carburizing

 Part is buried in a carbonaceous material

in a container  Container is placed in a furnace for 15-60 minutes  Time controls the depth of the case  After removal from the furnace part is quenched

Liquid Salt Method

 Part is heated in molten cyanide salt bath

up to an hour  Cyanide is introduced in surface and immersion time determines the thickness of the hard case  After holding for desired time part is quenched

Gas Method-Nitriding
 Part is heated in a special airtight chamber  Ammonia gas is introduced at high

temperature  Ammonia gas decomposes into nitrogen and hydrogen  Nitrogen enters the steel surface to form nitride  Surface becomes extremely hard

Part Being Removed from Cyanide Bath

Padlock Shackles Being Loaded in Nitriding Furnace

Surface Hardening
 Surface hardening is the process that permits

the surface of high carbon and alloy steels to be hardened without affecting the internal structure of the metal  Three techniques
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Flame Hardening: Surface is heated rapidly by flame of gas torch and then quenched Induction Hardening: Heating is performed by high frequency electrical current and then quenched Laser Hardening: 3.2 to 15.9 mm Laser beam focused on area to be hardened. Small area gets self quenched within few seconds. Part does not get warped or distorted

Aluminum Alloys Heat Treatment

 Preheating or homogenizing, to reduce
chemical segregation of cast structures and to improve their workability

 Annealing, to soften strain-hardened (work-hardened)

and heat treated alloy structures, to relieve stresses, and to stabilize properties and dimensions

 Solution heat treatments, to effect solid solution

of alloying constituents and improve mechanical properties

 Precipitation heat treatments, to provide

hardening by precipitation of constituents from solid solution.

Preheating or Homogenization
 This thermal operation is applied to ingots prior

to hot working - "ingot preheating  Purposes depend upon the alloy, product, and fabricating process involved
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Principal objectives is to improve workability The microstructure of most alloys in the as-cast condition is quite heterogeneous. Microstructure is homogenized

 The distorted, dislocated structure resulting from cold

working of aluminum is less stable than the strain-free, annealed state, to which it tends to revert  Lower-purity aluminum and commercial aluminum alloys undergo these structural changes only with annealing at elevated temperatures  Accompanying the structural reversion are changes in the various properties affected by cold working  These changes occur in several stages, according to temperature or time, and have led to the concept of different annealing mechanisms or processes.

Aluminum Heat Treatment to Increase Strength

 A three-step process
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Solution heat treatment. Dissolution of soluble


Quenching. Development of supersaturation Age hardening. Precipitation of solute atoms either

at room temperature (natural aging) or elevated temperature (artificial aging)

 The most critical step in the sequence of

heat treating operations  The objective of quenching is to preserve as nearly intact as possible the solid solution formed at the solution heat treating temperature, by rapidly cooling to some lower temperature, usually near room temperature.

Aluminum Copper Alloy

Aluminum Heat Treatment Designations

 F As Fabricated - No special control has been performed to the
heat treatment or strain hardening after the shaping process such as casting, hot working, or cold working.  O Annealed - This is the lowest strength, highest ductility temper

 H Strain Hardened - (applied to wrought products only) Used

for products that have been strengthened by strain hardening, with or without subsequent heat treatment.  W Solution Heat Treated - This is seldom encountered because it is an unstable temper that applies only to alloys that spontaneously age at ambient temperature after heat treatment.  T Solution Heat Treated - Used for products that have been strengthened by heat treatment, with or without subsequent strain hardening.

Heat Treatment Temper Codes


T1 - Cooled from an elevated temperature shaping process and naturally

aged to a substantially stable condition. T2 - Cooled from an elevated temperature shaping process, cold worked, and naturally aged to a substantially stable condition. T3 - Solution heat treated, cold worked, and naturally aged to a substantially stable condition. T4 - Solution heat treated, and naturally aged to a substantially stable condition. T5 - Cooled from an elevated temperature shaping process then artificially aged. T6 - Solution heat treated then artificially aged.

T7 - Solution heat treated then overaged/stabilized.  T8 - Solution heat treated, cold worked, then artificially aged.  T9 - Solution heat treated, artificially aged, then cold worked.  T10 - Cooled from an elevated temperature shaping process, cold worked,
then artificially aged.

Strain Hardening Codes

 H1 - Strain hardened only  H2 - Strain hardened and partially annealed  H3 - Strain hardened and stabilized  H4 - Strain hardened and lacquered or painted.

 Heat treatment basic concepts  Steel heat treatment Processes  Aluminum Heat Treatment Processes


Toughness and Strength

Toughness, in materials science and metallurgy, is the resistance to fracture of a material when stressed. It is defined as the amount of energy per volume that a material can absorb before rupturing. Tests can be done by using a pendulum and some basic physics to measure how much energy it will hold when released from a particular height. By having a sample at the bottom of its swing a measure of toughness can be found, as in the Charpy and Izod impact tests. Toughness is measured in units of joules per cubic metre (J/m3) in the SI system and inch-pound-force per cubic inch (inlbf/in3) in US customary units. Strength and toughness are related. A material may be strong and tough if it ruptures under high forces, exhibiting high strains; on the other hand, brittle materials may be strong but with limited strain values, so that they are not tough. Generally speaking, strength indicates how much force the material can support, while toughness indicates how much energy a material can absorb before rupture.

 Shock resistance is the property by virtue

of which material will withstand impact or thermal shock without failure  Fatigue resistance is related to number of stress cycle a material can take before failure