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As the title “Analysis of Heat Treatment and effect of Carbon Percentage in Metal Structure”

suggests this project is to understand the effect of heat treatment technique and carbon

content on the metal properties and structure. Here we shall also analyze the process of heat

treatment techniques and their types.


The heat treatment includes heating and cooling operations or the sequence of two or more

such operations applied to any material in order to modify its metallurgical structure and alter

its physical, mechanical and chemical properties.

A.Heat Treatment Definition

Heat Treatment is a technique of controlled heating and cooling of metals to alter their

physical and mechanical properties without changing the product shape.

B.Heat Treatments Objectives

Heat Treatment is often associated with increasing the strength of material, but it can also be

used to alter certain manufacturability objectives such as improve machining, improve

formability, restore ductility after a cold working operation. Steels are heat treated for one of

the following reasons.

Softening: Softening is done jto reduce strength of hardness, remove residual stresses,

improve toughness, restore dutility, refine grain size or change the electromagnetic

properties of the steel.

Hardening: Hardening of steels is done to increase the strength and wear properties.

Material Modification: To modify properties of materials in addition to hardening and

softening, to maximize service life.


A Annealing

Annealing is performed primarily for homogenization, recrystallization or relief of residual

stress in typical cold worked or welded components.Few important variants of annealing are


a. Full Annealing (conventional annealing)

Full annealing process consists of three steps. First step is heating the steel component to

above A3 (upper critical temperature for ferrite) temperature for hypoeutectoid steels and

above A1 (lower critical temperature) temperature for hypereutectoid steels by 30-50 C.

The second step is holding the steel component at this temperature for a definite holding

(soaking) period of at least 20 minutes per cm to assure equalization of temperatureand

complete austenization. Final step is to cool the hot steel component to room temperature

slowly in the furnace. The full annealing is used to relieve the internal stresses, to reduce

hardness, to refine the grain structure, to make the material homogenous.

Schematic representation of annealing operation

Iron-carbon phase equilibrium diagram

b.Spheroidise annealing

Spheroidise annealing produces typical microstructure consisting of the globules (spheroid)

of cementite or carbides in the matrix of ferrite.Spheroidise annealing is achieved by

holding the steel component at just below the lower critical temperature (A1) transforms the

pearlite to globular cementite particles.

A typical heat treatment cycle to produce spheroidised structure.

d.Recrystallization annealing

Recrystallization annealing process consists of heating a steel component below A1

0 0
temperature i.e. at temperature between 625 C and 675 C (recrystallization temperature

range of steel), holding at this temperature and subsequent cooling.

e.Stress relief annealing

Stress relief annealing process consists of three steps. The first step is heating the cold
0 0
worked steel to a temperature between 500 C and 550 C i.e. below its recrystallization

temperature. The second step involves holding the steel component at this temperature for 1-

2 hours. The final step is to cool the steel component to room temperature in air.


Normalizing process consists of three steps. The first step involves heating the steel

component above the A3 cm temperature for hypoeutectoid steels and above A(upper critical

0 0
temperature for cementite) temperature for hypereutectoid steels by 30 C to 50 C. The

second step involves holding the steel component long enough at this temperature for

homogeneous austenization. The final step involves cooling the hot steel component to

room temperature in still air. Due to air cooling, normalized components show slightly

different structure and properties than annealed components.

The variation in the properties of the annealed and normalized components.


C. Hardening

Different techniques to improve the hardness of the steels are conventional hardening,

martempering and austempering.

a. Conventional hardening

Conventional hardening process consists of four steps. The first step involves heating the

steel to above A3 temperature for hypoeutectoid steels and above A1 temperature for

hypereutectoid steels by 50 C. The second step involves holding the steel components for

sufficient socking time for homogeneous austenization. The third step involves cooling of

hot steel components at a rate just exceeding the critical cooling rate of the steel to room

temperature or below room temperature. The final step involves the tempering of the

martensiteto achieve the desired hardness. In this conventional hardening process, the

austenite transforms to martensite. This martensite structure improves the hardness.

Heat treatment cycle for conventional hardening process

b. Martempering (marquenching)

Martempering process overcomes the limitation of the conventional hardening process. This

process follows interrupted quenching operation. In other words, the cooling is stopped at a point

above the martensite transformation region to allow sufficient time for the center to cool to the

temperature as the surface. Further cooling is continued through the martensite region, followed

by the usual tempering. In this process, the transformation of austenite to martensite takes place

at the same time throughout the structure of the metal part.

Heat treatment cycle for martempering.

b. Austempering

This process is also used to overcome the limitation of the conventional hardening process. Here

the quench is interrupted at a higher temperature than for martempering to allow the metal at the

center of the part to reach the same temperature as the surface. By maintaining that temperature,

both the center and surface are allowed to transform to bainite and are then cooled to room

temperature. Austempering causes less distortion and cracking than that in the case of

martempering and avoids the tempering operation.

Heat treatment cycle for austempering.


Tempering is achieved by heating hardened steel to a temperature below A1, which is in the

0 0
range of 100 C to 680 C, hold the component at this temperature for a soaking period of 1 to 2

hours (can be increases up to 4 hours for large sections and alloy steels), and subsequently

cooling back to room temperature.

Following Figuredepicts the influence of tempering temperature on the properties of steel. It is

observed that the increase in the tempering temperature decreases the hardness and internal

stresses while increases the toughness.

Variation in properties with tempering temperature

E. Flame Hardening:

Flame hardening is used to harden only a portion of a metal. Unlike differential hardening,

where the entire piece is heated and then cooled at different rates, in flame hardening, only a

portion of the metal is heated before quenching. This is usually easier than differential

hardening, but often produces an extremely brittle zone between the heated metal and the

unheated metal, as cooling at the edge of this heat affected zone is extremely rapid.

F.Induction hardening

Induction hardening is a surface hardening technique in which the surface of the metal is

heated very quickly, using a no-contact method of induction heating. The alloy is then

quenched, producing a martensite transformation at the surface while leaving the underlying

metal unchanged. This creates a very hard, wear resistant surface while maintaining the

proper toughness in the majority of the object. Crankshaft journals are a good example of an

induction hardened surface.

G.Case hardening

Case hardening is a thermochemical diffusion process in which an alloying element, most

commonly carbon or nitrogen, diffuses into the surface of a monolithic metal. The resulting

interstitial solid solution is harder than the base material, which improves wear resistance

without sacrificing toughness.


Heat treatment of steels or aluminum can lead to several defects as followings.

A.Crack: When the internal tensile stresses exceed the resistance of the steel to separation

the crack occurs.

B.Distortion:Distortion occurs due to uneven heating, too fast cooling, part incorrectly

supported in furnace, incorrect dipping in quenching and stresses present before preheating.

C.Warping: Asymmetrical distortion of the work is often called warping in heat-treating


5 Analyzing The Effect Of Heat Treatment Processes On

TheMechanical Properties Of Medium Carbon Steel


a Preparation of the Tensile Specimens

The material used for this study is a medium carbon steel with carbon content of 0.30%


b Heat treating the Medium Carbon Steel

Standard heat treatment procedures were adoptedto heat treat the medium carbon steel. Five

different samples were prepared for each of the operation and the average values were

calculated upon which the analyses were based.

c Tensile Test of the Medium Carbon Steel

After the specimens had been heat treated as appropriate, the tensile test were carried out on

them to determine the mechanical properties of the steel and compare it with the non heat

treated specimen which was also subjected to the same tensile test.

B. Heat Treatment Process Done on Specimen

a. Hardening process

b. Tempering process

c. Annealing process

d. Normalizing process

C.Material Testing

After the successful heat treatment test was performed on Standard Universal Testing chine.

Figure (b)

The stress/strain values obtained from the tensile test gave the engineering stress/strain

values. These values were later converted to true stress/strain values using the relationship

given below:

D.Results And Discussion

The heat treated specimens were now subjected to tensile test. The resulting engineering

stress - strain curves obtained from the test are shown in Figures 2 to 5 for annealed,

normalized, tempered and hardened specimens respectively.

Table 1: The materials property for different heat treated specimens based on true-stress

strain data

The value of yield strength (σy) was observed to be higher for the tempered steel specimen,

possibly as a result of the grain re-arrangement due to the subsequent tempering process. The

yield strength value for the hardened specimen was also observed to be greater than that of

normalized and annealed specimens, while the normalized specimen also has a greater value

than that of annealed specimen, which has the least value. The hardness of the steel increases

with cooling rate and also with increasing pearlite percentage which increased as the

percentage mertensiteincreases.The increase in the hardness was due to the delay in the

formation of peatrlite and martensite at a higher cooling rate.

The value of ultimate tensile strength (σu) were observed to be in the order; hardened >

tempered > normalized > annealed, possibly as a result of the refinement of the primary

phase after the subsequent cooling processes.

Beyond the yield point, the stress continuously increases with further plastic strain, while the

slope of the stress-strain curves, representing the strain hardening steadily decreases with

increasing stress.

It was also observed from the graphs that for all the heat treated specimens, except for the

hardened specimen, there were tremendous increase in the toughness of the material which

indicates that hardened material, though have a very high ultimate tensile stress (σu), but at

the expense of its toughness, hence where toughness is a major concern, the material should

be oil tempered for a satisfactory results.

The strain produced for each of the specimen was in the order of annealed > normalized >

tempered > hardened.

Empirical relationships were also developed to determined various value of stresses at any

given strain and strain rate for each of the specimen. The empirical relationships were given

in equation 3 to 7 for normalized, tempered, annealed, hardened and as received specimen



From the results obtained, it can be inferred that mechanical properties depends largely upon

the various form of heat treatment operations and cooling rate. Hence depending upon the

properties and the applications that may be required for any design purpose, a suitable form

of heattreatment should be adopted.For high ductile and minimum toughness, annealing the

medium carbon steel will give satisfactory results.



A Introduction

As an elemental metal, pure iron has only limited engineering usefulnessdespite its allotropy.

Carbon is the main alloying addition that capitalizeson the allotropic phenomenon and lifts

iron from mediocrity intothe position of a unique structural material, broadly known as steel.

To analize the effect of carbon content in iron we would go through the Iron carbon phase

diagram and study the effect of carbon content on microstructure of alloy.

B.Allotropy of Iron

The Iron Carbon Phase Diagram

This diagrame graphically represents the effects of temperature and composition on all the

phases present in iron carbon alloys.

1) All the alloys in the temperature range above the curve ABCD are in liquid state.

2) Point A on the curve represent the melting point(1539˚C) of pure iron. Point D

represent melting point(1550˚C) of cementite. With the fall in temperature of the

lquid along the curve ABC Austenite crystals separate from the liquid metal.

Similarly, the crystal of cementite will separate from the liquid with fall in

temperature of the latter along line CD. The horizontal line HJB represent a pearlite

reaction in which austenite is formed.Crystal of delta (δ) iron separate from the

liquid along line AB

3) The curve HJECF represents the temperature line along which all carbon always

solidify completely.It is known as solidline.all the alloys containing 0.18 to 2.0%

carbon will solidify at temperatures represented by the solidus line HJE and all

those containing 2.0 to 6.7% carbon at 1130 ˚C, represented by the solidus line

ECF.Point C corresponds to 4.3% carbon.At this point austenite and cementite are

precipitated from the liquid alloy and form an eutectic alloy called

Ledeburite.point J,C and F are respectively known as Peritectic,Eutectic and


4) Two types of transformation are represented by this diagram, called the Primary

Transformation and Secondary Transformations.The Primary Transformation

include primary solidification i.e. , the change of alloy phase from liquid to solid

and the secondary transformation include the phase change in solid state.

5) The area of ferrite formation is represented by the region GPQ. Solubility of carbon

in α iron at 723 ˚C is indicated by point p.At this point it is 0.025% carbon and goes

on reducing as cooling proceeds. This aspect is represented by point PQ.

6) Steels having less than 0.8% carbon are called Hypoeutectoide steels and those

having more than 0.8% carbon Hypereutectoid steels.Those steels which contain

exactly 0.8% carbon are known as Eutectoid steels.Thehypoeutectoid steels below

the line ES will consist of austenite and cementite. Similarly, cast iron with carbon

below 4.3% will have pearlite and ledeburite, those with exactly 4.3% carbon only

ledeburite having above 4.3% carbon cementite and ledeburite as their phase

structures below the line EF.


After analyzing the process of heat treatment it is observed as final outcome that it develops

following general effects in mechanical properties.

 Increase the hardness of metal

 Relieves the internal stresses set up in the material after hot or cold working

 Improves machinability

 Softens the metal

 Modifies theintesrnal structure of material

 Improves the electrical and magnetic properties

 Increases quality of metal to increase better resistance to heat, corrosion and wear

 Improves mechanical properties like tensile strength, ductility and shock resistance etc.

After analyzing the effects of carbon content it is observed as final outcome that with increase

in carbon in steel

 Decreases the ductility of steel.

 Increases the tensile strength of steel

 Increases the hardness of steel.

 Decreases the ease with which steel can be machined.

 Lowers the melting point of steel.

 Makes steel easier to harden with heat treatments.

 Lowers the temperature required to heat treat steel.

 Increases the difficulty of welding steel.


Scope for future study regarding heat treatment and carbon percentage in metals is more. I have

learnt a lot from this project by analyzing heat treatment by various method and carbon


 By changing the percentage of carbon in steel we can control the hardness of steel.

 Better optimization of temp. & process can reduce the defects of heat treatment.

 Better control of temperature in heat treatment can increase the hardness as well as



 Workshop technology by R S Khurmi.

 Material Science by W D Callister.

 Material Science by R K Rajput.

 Material Science by O P Khanna.

 Visit to SMMS (Specialist Materials & Maintenance Services) department of EIL

(Engineers India Limited).
 Internet.