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1.

0 Title
Heat Treatment

2.0 Objectives
o To learn and conduct the methods of heat treatment for engineering material
specifically for metal and alloys.
o To be able to practice the safety operation during process of heat treatment.

3.0 Theory
Heat treatment is the process of heating and cooling metals to achieve desired
physical and mechanical properties through modification of their crystalline structure.
The temperature, length of time, and rate of cooling after heat treatment will all impact
properties dramatically. The most common reasons to heat treat include increasing
strength or hardness, increasing toughness, improving ductility and maximizing
corrosion resistance.

Common heat treatments are:


i.

Annealing

ii.

Hardening

iii.

Normalizing

iv.

Tempering

v.

Quenching

i.

Annealing
Annealing is performed to reduce hardness, remove residual stresses,
improve toughness, restore ductility, and to alter various mechanical,
electrical or magnetic properties of material through refinement of
grains. Cooling rate is very slow around 10oC per hour. Process is carried
out in a controlled atmosphere of inert gas to avoid oxidation. It is used
to achieve ductility in work hardened steels. The material is often left in
the oven to cool it in a controllable way.

ii.

Hardening
Hardening is performed to impart strength and hardness to alloys by
heating up to a certain temperature, depending on the material, and
cooling it rapidly. Steel is heated and held there until its carbon is
dissolved, and then cooled rapidly, the carbon does not get sufficient
time to escape and get dissipated in the lattice structure. This helps in
locking the dislocation movements when stresses are applied. Quenching
is performed to cool hot metal rapidly by immersing it in brine (salt
water), water, oil, molten salt, air or gas. Quenching sets up residual
stresses in the work piece and sometimes results in cracks. Residual
stresses are removed by another process called annealing.

iii.

Normalizing
The process is similar to annealing and is carried out to avoid excessive
softness in the material. The material is heated above austenitic phase
(1100 C) and then cooled in air. This gives relatively faster cooling and
hence enhanced hardness and less ductility. Normalizing is less expensive
than annealing. In normalization variation in properties of different
sections of a part is achieved. The selection of heat treatment operations
is strongly influenced by the carbon content in the steel.

iv.

Tempering
Martensite is very hard and brittle. Tempering is applied to hardened
steel to reduce brittleness, increase ductility, and toughness and relieve
stresses in martensite structure. In this process, the steel is heated to
lower critical temperature (350-400 C) keeping it there for about one
hour and then cooled slowly at prescribed rate. These processes
increases ductility and toughness but also reduce hardness, strength and
wear resistance marginally. Increase in tempering temperature lowers
the hardness.

v.

Quenching
Quenching is a process of cooling a metal at a rapid rate. This is most
often done to produce a martensite transformation. In ferrous alloys, this
will often produce a harder metal, while non-ferrous alloys will usually
become softer than normal. To harden by quenching, a metal (usually
steel or cast iron) must be heated above the upper critical temperature
and then quickly cooled. Depending on the alloy and other considerations
(such as concern for maximum hardness vs. cracking and distortion),
cooling may be done with forced air or other gases, (such as nitrogen).
Liquids may be used, due to their better thermal conductivity, such as oil,
water, a polymer dissolved in water, or brine. Upon being rapidly cooled,

a portion of austenite (dependent on alloy composition) will transform to


martensite, a hard, brittle crystalline structure.

The diagram shown above is based on the transformation that occurs as a result of slow
heating. Slow cooling will reduce the transformation temperatures; for example: the A1 point
would be reduced from 723C to 690 C. However the fast heating and cooling rates
encountered in welding will have a significant influence on these temperatures, making the
accurate prediction of weld metallurgy using this diagram difficult.
o Austenite - This phase is only possible in carbon steel at high temperature. It has a Face
Centre Cubic (F.C.C) atomic structure which can contain up to 2% carbon in solution.

o Ferrite - This phase has a Body Centre Cubic structure (B.C.C) which can hold very little
carbon; typically 0.0001% at room temperature. It can exist as either: alpha or delta
ferrite.

o Carbon - A very small interstitial atom that tends to fit into clusters of iron atoms. It
strengthens steel and gives it the ability to harden by heat treatment. It also causes
major problems for welding, particularly if it exceeds 0.25% as it creates a hard

microstructure that is susceptible to hydrogen cracking. Carbon forms compounds with


other elements called carbides. Iron Carbide, Chrome Carbide etc.

o Cementite - Unlike ferrite and austenite, cementite is a very hard intermetallic


compound consisting of 6.7% carbon and the remainder iron, its chemical symbol is
Fe3C. Cementite is very hard, but when mixed with soft ferrite layers its average
hardness is reduced considerably. Slow cooling gives course perlite; soft easy to
machine but poor toughness. Faster cooling gives very fine layers of ferrite and
cementite; harder and tougher

o Pearlite - A mixture of alternate strips of ferrite and cementite in a single grain. The
distance between the plates and their thickness is dependent on the cooling rate of the
material; fast cooling creates thin plates that are close together and slow cooling creates
a much coarser structure possessing less toughness. The name for this structure is
derived from its mother of pearl appearance under a microscope. A fully pearlitic
structure occurs at 0.8% Carbon. Further increases in carbon will create cementite at
the grain boundaries, which will start to weaken the steel.

Cooling of steel below 0.8% carbon is when steel solidifies it forms austenite. When the
temperature falls below the A3 point, grains of ferrite start to form. As more grains of ferrite

start to form the remaining austenite becomes richer in carbon. At about 723C the remaining
austenite, which now contains 0.8% carbon, changes to pearlite. The resulting structure is a
mixture consisting of white grains of ferrite mixed with darker grains of pearlite. Heating is
basically the same thing in reverse.