Which Type Of Thermal Processing Is Right For My Project?

Posted on: 1 July 2016

Working with steel can be a simple and cost-effective way to complete any construction project. Steel is a versatile building material that can be treated in many ways to ensure that the finished product meets your needs. Thermal processing is common for steel products, but determining which type of thermal processing is right for your project can be challenging.

Here are some simple questions you can ask yourself to ensure that you invest in the right thermal processing technique for your steel products in the future.

1. Will my steel products be subjected to stress?

Placing stress on any manufactured steel product can be dangerous if the right type of thermal process hasn't been applied. Stress relieving is a thermal processing technique that eliminates stress points caused by welding, rolling, or forming during the manufacturing process.

During a stress relieving process, steel products are reheated and then cooled slowly to allow the molecules within the steel to align properly. This process strengthens the steel and allows it to withstand higher levels of stress without cracking or breaking.

2. Will my steel products need to be machined?

Machining steel products after manufacturing is common. Heavy machining processes (like polishing or cutting) can take a toll on the quality of the steel, but the right thermal process can help eliminate any of the negative side effects of heavy machining processes.

Through a thermal process known as normalizing, steel is heated above the transformation temperature and then cooled in slightly agitated air. This agitation helps to refine the steel grains that have been exposed to high temperatures throughout the manufacturing process, allowing them to become strong once again. This strength allows for heavy machining processes to take place without causing damage to the structural integrity of your steel products.

3. Will I need to bend or form my steel?

If you need to bend or form your raw steel in order to create a finished product, then annealing is the right thermal process for you. Annealing requires steel to be heated until it is just below the transformation temperature (723 degrees Centigrade), and then cooled through a controlled cycle that brings the temperature back down very slowly.

By engaging in a slow cooling process, you are able to maintain the elasticity of the molecules within a piece of steel, allowing for easier bending and forming in the future.

Understanding the right thermal process for your steel construction materials will make it easier to select the thermal process that is best suited to meet your needs.