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Heat Treatment Glossary

Age Hardening
Hardening by aging, usually after rapid cooling or cold working. The term as
applied to soft, or low carbon steels, relates to a wide variety of commercially
important, slow, gradual changes that take place in properties of steels after
the final treatment. These changes, which bring about a condition of increased
hardness, elastic limit, and tensile strength with a consequent loss in ductility,
occur during the period in which the steel is at normal temperatures.

Aging
A change in properties that occurs at ambient or moderately elevated
temperatures after hot working or a heat treating operation (quench aging in
ferrous alloys), or after a cold working operation (strain aging). The change in
properties is often, but not always, due to a phase change (precipitation), but
does not involve a change in chemical composition. In a metal or alloy, a
change in properties that generally occurs slowly at room temperature and
more rapidly at higher temperatures.

Annealing
Heating to and holding at a suitable temperature and then cooling at a suitable
rate, for such purposes as reducing hardness, improving machinability,
facilitating cold working, producing a desired microstructure, or obtaining
desired mechanical, physical, or other properties. When applicable, the
following more specific terms should be used: black annealing, blue annealing,
box annealing, bright annealing, flame annealing, graphitizing, intermediate
annealing, isothermal annealing, malleablizing, process annealing, quench
annealing, recrystallization annealing, and spheroidizing. When applied to
ferrous alloys, the term annealing, without qualification, implies full annealing.
When applied to nonferrous alloys, the term annealing implies a heat
treatment designed to soften an age-hardened alloy by causing a nearly
complete precipitation of the second phase in relatively coarse form. Any
process of annealing will usually reduce stresses, but if the treatment is applied
for the sole purpose of such relief, it should be designated stress relieving.

AUSTEMPERING
This is a method of hardening steel by quenching from the austenitizing
temperature into a heat extracting medium (usually salt) which is maintained
at some constant temperature level between 400” and 800” and holding the
steel in this medium until austenite is transformed to bainite.

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AUSTENITISING
Forming austenite by heating a ferrous alloy into the transformation range
(partial austenitizing) or above the transformation range (complete
austenitizing). When used without qualification, the term implies complete
austenitizing.

AUSTENITE
The solid solution of iron and carbon which is attained by heating to high
temperatures above the upper critical temperature. This temperature or
temperature range is called the austenitizing temperature and must be
attained to obtain the proper microstructure and full hardness of steel in heat
treating. The austenitizing temperature varies for the different grades of
carbon, alloy and tool steels.

Bainite
A eutectoid transformation product of ferrite and a fine dispersion of carbide,
generally formed at temperatures below 840 to 930 F (450 to 500 C): upper
bainite is an aggregate containing parallel lath-shape units of ferrite, produces
the so-called feathery appearance in optical microscopy, and is formed at
temperatures above about 660 F (350 C) ; lower bainite consists of individual
plate-shape units and is formed at temperatures below about 660 F (350 C).
Also, a slender, needle-like (acicular) microstructure appearing in spring steel
strip characterized by toughness and greater ductility than tempered
Martensite. Bainite is a decomposition product of Austenite best developed at
interrupted holding temperatures below those forming fine pearlite and above
those giving Martensite.

Bath Annealing
Is immersion is a liquid bath (such as molten lead or fused salts) held at an
assigned temperature-when a lead bath is used, the process is known as lead
annealing.

Black Annealing
A process of box annealing or pot annealing ferrous alloy sheet, strip or wire
after hot working and pickling.

Blue Annealing
Heating hot rolled ferrous sheet in an open furnace to a temperature within the
transformation range and then cooling in air, in order to soften the metal. The
formation of a bluish oxide on the surface is incidental.

Bluing
Subjecting the scale-free surface of a ferrous alloy to the action of air, steam,
or other agents at a suitable temperature, thus forming a thin blue film of
oxide and improving the appearance and resistance to corrosion.

Brazing
Joining metals by fusion of nonferrous alloys that have melting points above
800 F (425C), but lower than those of the metals being joined. May be

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accomplished by a torch. Filler metal is ordinarily in rod form in torch brazing;


whereas in furnace and dip brazing the work material is first assembled and the
filler metal may then be applied as wire, washers, clips, bands, or may be
bonded, as in brazing sheet.

Bright Annealing
The process of annealing in a protective atmosphere so as to prevent
discoloration of the bright surface desired.

Carbon Potential
A measure of the capacity of an environment containing active carbon to alter
or maintain, under prescribed conditions, the carbon concentration in a steel.

CARBONITRIDING
A case hardening process in which a suitable ferrous material is heated above
the lower transformation temperature in a gaseous atmosphere of such
composition as to cause simultaneous diffusion of carbon and nitrogen into the
matrix of the material. The process is completed by cooling at a rate that
produces the desired properties in the work piece.

Carburizing (Cementation)
Adding carbon to the surface of iron-base alloys by absorption through heating
the metal at a temperature below its melting point in contact with
carbonaceous solids, liquids or gases. The oldest method of case hardening.

Case Hardening
A generic term covering several processes applicable to steel that change the
the chemical composition of the surface layer by absorption of carbon or
nitrogen, or a mixture of the two, and, by diffusion, create a concentration
gradient. A heat treatment or a combination of heat treatments of surface
hardening involving a change in the composition of the outer layer of an
iron-base alloy in which the surface is made substantially harder by inward
diffusion of a gas or liquid followed by appropriate thermal treatment. Typical
hardening processes are carburizing, cyaniding, carbo-nitriding and nitriding.

Crystallization
The formation of crystals by the atoms assuming definite positions in a crystal
lattice. This is what happens when a liquid metal solidifies. (Fatigue, the failure
of metals under repeated stresses, is sometimes falsely attributed to
crystallization.)

CYANIDING
Surface hardening by carbon and nitrogen absorption of a steel article or a
portion of it by heating at a suitable temperature in contact with cyanide salt,
followed by quenching.

DECARBURIZATION
When steel is subjected to high temperatures, such as are used in hot rolling,
forging, and heat treating in a media containing air, oxygen, or hydrogen there
is a loss of carbon at the surface which is known as decarburization. This
resultant loss of carbon or chemistry change at the surface of the steel part

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reduces the strength of the part by reducing the size of the section and
produces a softer surface hardness than the core of the part.

Ductility
The property of metals that enables them to be mechanically deformed when
cold, without fracture. In steel, ductility is usually measured by elongation and
reduction of area as determined in a tensile test.

HARDENABILITY
This relates to the ability of steel to harden deeply upon quenching, and takes
into consideration the size of the part and the method of quenching. The test
used to determine the hardenability of any grade of steel is the Jominy Test.

Hardening
Increasing hardness by suitable treatment, usually involving heating and
cooling. When applicable, the following more specific terms should be used:
age hardening, case hardening, flame hardening, induction hardening,
precipitation hardening, quench hardening.

Heat Treatment
Altering the properties of a metal by subjecting it to a sequence of
termperature changes, time of retention at specific temperature and rate of
coolingtherfrom being as important as the temperature itself. Heat treatment
usually markedly affects strength, hardness, ductility, malleability, and similar
properties of both metals and their alloys.

Homogenizing Annealing
An annealing treatment carried out at a high temperature, approaching the
solidus temperature, for a sufficiently long time that inhomogeneous
distributions of alloying elements are reduced by diffusional processes.

Isothermal Annealing
A process in which a ferrous alloy is heated to produce a structure partly or
wholly austenitic, and is then cooled to and held at a temperaure that causes
transformation of the austenite to a relatively soft ferrite-carbide aggregate.

MARTEMPERING OR MARQUENCHING
This is a method of hardening steel by quenching from the austenitizing
temperature into some heat extracting medium, usually salt, which is
maintained at some constant temperature level above the point at which
martensite starts to form (usually about 450” F.), holding the steel in this
medium until the temperature is uniform throughout, cooling in air for the
formation of martensite and tempering by the conventional method. The
advantages of this method of interrupted quenching are a minimum of
distortion and residual strains. The size of the part can be considerably larger
than for austempering.

MARTENSITE
A microconstituent or structure in quenched steel which has the maximum
hardness of ally of the other steel structures resulting from the transformation
of austenite.

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NITRIDING
Introducing nitrogen into a solid ferrous alloy by holding at a suitable
temperature (below Ac1 for ferritic steels) in contact with a nitrogenous
material, usually ammonia of molten cyanide of appropriate composition.
Quenching is not required to produce a hard case. Process of surface hardening
certain types of steel by heating in ammonia gas at about 935-1000 (degrees)
F., the increase in hardness being the result of surface nitride formation.
Certain alloying constituents, principal among them being aluminum, greatly
facilitate the hardening reaction. In general, the depth of the case is less than
with carburizing.

NORMALIZING
Heating steels to approximately 100 F above the critical temperature range
followed by cooling to below that range in still air at ordinary temperatures.
This heat treat operation is used to erase previous heat treating results in
carbon steels to .40% carbon, low alloy steels, and to produce a uniform grain
structure in forged and cold worked steel parts.

OIL HARDENING
A process of hardening a ferrous alloy of suitable composition (generally alloys)
by heating within or above the transformation range and quenching in oil.

Overheating
Heating a metal or alloy to such a high temperature that its properties are
impaired. When the original properties cannot be restored by further heat
treating, by mechanical working or by a combination of working and heat
treating, the overheating is known as burning.

Oxidation
The addition of oxygen to a compound. Exposure to atmosphere sometimes
results in oxidation of the exposed surface, hence a staining or discoloration.
This effect is increased with temperature increase.

PEARLITE
Microscopic structure of steel which is produced by slow cooling or air cooling
low to medium carbon and low alloy steels from the austenitic state.

Preheating
Heating before some further thermal or mechanical treatment. For tool steel,
heating to an intermediate temperature immediately before austenitizing. For
some nonferrous alloys, heating to a high temperature for a long time, in order
to homogenize the structure before working.

Quench Hardening
A process of hardening a ferrous alloy of suitable composition by heating within
or above the transformation range and cooling at a rate sufficient to increase
the hardness substantially. The process usually involves the formation of

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martensite.

Quenching
In the heat treating of metals, the step of cooling metals rapidly in order to
obtain desired properties; most commonly accomplished by immersing the
metal in oil or water. In the case of most copper base alloys, quenching has no
effect other than to hasten cooling.

QUENCHING AND TEMPERING


In this operation the procedure consists of heating the material to the proper
austenitizing temperature, holding at that temperature for a sufficient time to
effect the desired change in crystalline structure, and quenching in a suitable
medium - water, oil or air depending on the chemical composition. After
quenching, the material is reheated to a predetermined temperature below the
critical range and then cooled under suitable temperatures (tempering).

Refractory Alloy
A term applied to those alloys which due to hardness or abrasiveness present
relative difficulty in maintaining close dimensional tolerances.

Resilience
The tendency of a material to return to its original shape after the removal of a
stress that has produced elastic strain.

Sintering
The thermal treatment of a powder or compact at a temperature below the
melting point of the main constituent, for the purpose of increasing its strength
by bonding together of the particles.

Stabilizing Treatment
A thermal treatment designed to precipitate material from solid solution, in
order to improve the workability, to decrease the tendency of certain alloys to
age harden at room temperature, or to obtain dimensional stability under
service at slightly elevated temperatures.

Stainless Steel
Corrosion resistant steel of a wide variety, but always containing a high
percentage of chromium. These are highly resistant to corrosion attack by
organic acids, weak mineral acids, atmospheric oxidation, etc.

Stress Relief
Low temperature annealing for removing internal stresses, such as those
resulting on a metal from work hardening or quenching.

SUB-CRITICAL ANNEALING
Stress Relief Annealing. A heat treating operation used to relieve or dissipate
stresses in weldaments, heavily machined parts, castings and forgings. The
parts are heated to 1150” F., uniformly heated through, and are either air
cooled from temperature or slow cooled from temperature depending on the
type of part and subsequent finishing or heat treating operations.

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Surface Hardening
A generic term covering several processes applicable to a suitable ferrous alloy
that produce, by quench hardening only, a surface layer that is harder or more
wear resistant than the core. There is no significant alteration of the chemical
composition of the surface layer. The processes commonly used are induction
hardening, flame hardening and shell hardening. Use of the applicable specific
process name is preferred.

Temper
In heat treatment, re-heating hardened steel or hardened steel or hardened
cast iron to some temperature below the eutectoid temperature for the
purpose of decreasing the hardness and increasing the toughness. The process
also is sometimes applied to normalized steel.

TEMPERING
Reheating hardened, usually quenched, steel to some temperature below the
lower critical temperature followed by any desired rate of cooling after the
steel has been thoroughly soaked at temperature. Usual tempering
temperatures are 300” to 1100” F.

WATER HARDENING
High carbon grades of tool steel, straight carbon steels and low alloy steels that
are hardened by quenching in water during the heat treating operation.

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