The vehicles that we utilize to travel to work, home, and beyond are built almost entirely of components processed using an application requiring heat. Not all of the applications need a melting forge or heat treating forge. Some need an industrial oven at a lower temperature. Contemporary industrial operations face relentless environmental and economic pressures: systematic use and management of resources and energy, emissions reduction, process reliability. These challenges can only be raised by constantly improving methods and process technology.
In the automotive field, for example, improved heat treatment processes increase the strength and toughness properties of metallic structural components, and contemporary surface engineering technologies reduce the effects of abrasion and attrition.
Heat treatment is a managed process used to alter the microstructure of materials such as metals and alloys to pass on properties which benefit the working life of a component, for example increased surface hardness, temperature resistance, ductility and strength. There are numerous group of heat treatment processes major ones being annealing, normalizing, tempering and hardening.
Annealing is fundamentally a stress relieving process in which material is heated at a temperature above its upper critical temperature and is cooled in furnace itself.
Normalizing is a grain purifying process in which material is heated just like annealing but is cooled in still air.
Hardening is the process of heating the metal well above the upper critical temperature and then relieving it in medium like oil and water. Tempering comprises reheating of previously hardened material to increase its toughness by heating it below the lower critical temperature of the material and then cooling it in air.
The property of the substance is the function of its grain structure and therefore refined grain structure imparts better strength and reliability after undergoing heat treatment.
Parts heat treated include automotive body parts including lightweight aluminium body parts and high-strength steel structural parts. The vast number of engine and transmission parts is also heat treated not to mention many automotive stampings and fasteners. The heat treatment of gears and transmission parts is a huge part of the automotive market. Automotive glass is also “heat treated.” Processes vary widely and include
- Stress relieving
- Surface hardening
- Through hardening
- Ferritic nitrocarburizing (FNC)
- Solution heat treating of aluminium
- Controlled atmosphere brazing of automotive heat exchangers
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