There are two basic reasons to use the steel annealing process. The first one is to soften the otherwise very hard alloy, making it much easier to cut and work with for all types of machining needs.
The second reason is to remove the strains in the metal after it has been worked. This second consideration is perhaps as important as the first, but for very different reasons.
The Problems with Metal Strain
In terms of working with metal, strain is considered to be any type of a change in the shape or a deformation of a solid through the application of some type of stress. This can include both stretching and compressing a metal, which is very common in all types of part fabrications. The two types of strain including tensile, or the strain that occurs when stretching, and compression, which occurs when the solid steel is made smaller.
Through the steel annealing this internal strain can be eliminated, even if the metal has been worked by hammering, rolling, or otherwise altering the shape. The key to ensuring that the strain is relieved through the process is by carefully monitoring the steel annealing and ensuring all steps are completed correctly.
All steel annealing occurs through a basic method of heating the steel pieces to a specific temperature. The temperature is determined by the amount of carbon in the alloy, and the temperature has to be maintained to heat the pieces through completely. In addition, the operator has to be careful to avoid applying too much heat, which will be a temperature range above the hardening point, resulting in a coarser grain.
Also, with steel annealing, it is essential to allow a slow cooling process once the piece is removed from the heat. Cooling too fast will result in changing the properties of the steel and results in a hardening effect.
Finally, it is essential to control the atmosphere within the heating process to prevent the build-up on the surface of oxidization with exposure to air. Through pure hydrogen and pure nitrogen atmospheres, the final product from steel annealing will be a scale-free, bright, and highly reflective surface that is the hallmark of a top process.
Not all companies offering steel annealing have the equipment and the capacities to produce high-quality, bright and clean looking final components. Comparing the results from different metal companies will allow you to choose the best service.
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