Understanding Heat Treatment


Heat treating or also known as heat treatment is a group of metalworking and industrial processes that are used to modify the physical and at times, the chemical properties of a particular material. A common application for this is metallurgical. Heat treatments are being used in manufacturing of various materials like glass.


Los Angeles' number one metal heat treating is involving the use chilling or heating to the most extreme temperature in an effort to achieve the desired result similar to softening or hardening of a material. Techniques used in heat treatment are plentiful including case hardening, annealing, precipitation strengthening, quenching, normalizing and tempering. It's noteworthy that while this term is applicable to only processes where cooling and heating are done for specific purpose of intentionally modifying properties, cooling and heating typically take place incidentally throughout other manufacturing procedures like welding or hot forming.


Metallic materials have microstructure of small crystals that are known also as crystallites or grains. One of the most effective aspects to figure out the mechanical behavior of metal is seeing the nature of grains similar to its size or composition. Heat treatment does provide effective way to manipulate metal properties by controlling the diffusion rate and the cooling rate as well within microstructure. Most of the time, heat treatment is used to modify mechanical properties of metallic alloy, manipulating properties including toughness, strength, hardness, elasticity and ductility.


There are two mechanisms that could possibly change the properties of alloy during the heat treatment and it's the diffusion mechanism which makes the changes in alloy's homogeneity and formation of martensite that causes the crystals to deform intrinsically. Know about LA heat treating services here!


Structure of crystal consists of atoms that are specifically arranged in a group known as lattice. In many different elements, this order rearranges itself depending on conditions such as pressure and temperature. As a matter of fact, this said rearrangement is known scientifically as polymorphism or allotropy that can actually happen multiple times at different temperatures for certain metal types. Now in alloys, this rearrangement can result to an element that will not normally dissolve into base metal to be soluble while reversal of allotropy can make the element completely or partially insoluble.


When in soluble state, the diffusion process makes the atoms of dissolved element to spread while trying to form homogenous distribution within the base metal's crystals. If the alloy is cooled to an insoluble state, atoms of the dissolved constituents will move out of the solution. Here, the diffusion is known as precipitation which can lead to nucleation where all of the migrating atoms will regroup together at grain boundaries. When it happens, it forms microstructure that consists of 2 or several distinctive phases.

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