Heat Treating

Heat Treating Glossary

Heat Treating Glossary

Air Hardening Steel
A steel containing sufficient carbon to harden fully during cooling in air after being heated to a temperature above its transformation range. Sometimes referred to as self-hardening steel.

Annealing
Heat treat process consisting of heating to and holding at a temperature above the transformation temperature followed by slow cooling in the furnace at a suitable rate. Primarily used for softening metallic materials and removing stresses.

Brazing
Heat treat process that joins solid materials together using a filler metal, such as brass, that has a liquidous temperature lower than that of the solidus temperature of the base materials.

Carburizing
Diffusion of carbon into solid ferrous alloys by heating to desired temperature in contact with a suitable carbonaceous material. A form of case hardening that produces a carbon gradient extending inward from the surface, enabling the surface layer to be hardened either by quenching directly from the carburizing temperature or by cooling to room temperature.

Decarburization
Loss of carbon from the surface layer of an alloy due to reaction with one or more chemical substances which contact the surface.

Hardening
Heat treat process which increases hardness. Typically involves heating a metal to its transformation temperature, followed by controlled cooling by quenching.

Induction Heating
Heating by combining electrical resistance and hysteresis losses induced by subjecting a metal to the varying magnetic field surrounding a coil carrying high frequency alternating current.

Normalizing
Heat treat process consisting of heating to a temperature above the transformation range, followed by rapid cooling in air. Normalizing relieves internal stresses, refines grain size and makes structure more uniform for better machinability.

Preheating
Heating to an intermediate temperature before either further thermal or mechanical treatment or before final austenitizing. Helps reduce distortion and cracking of tools, as well as minimizes scaling and decarburization.

Protective Atmospheres
Gas(es) used to displace oxygen in the heating chamber to prevent or minimize scaling and oxidation on the work surface. Atmosphere can also be used to add carbon or remove carbon from the surface of steels. Protective atmospheres are generally classified as being inert (nitrogen, argon) or reducing (hydrogen, dissociated ammonia). Reducing atmospheres are flammable and explosive and require additional safety equipment for operation with furnaces.

Quenching
Hardening alloys by heating above the transformation temperature and then cooling at a controlled rate to transform the austenite to martensite. Typical quenching mediums include air, oil, water, salt and polymers.

Sintering
Heat treat process which bonds powdered metals under high temperatures but below the melting temperature of the material. Used to strengthen powdered metals.

Stress Relieving
Heat treat process consisting of heating steel below the transformation temperature, followed by slow cooling, to relieve internal stresses.

Tempering
Heat treat process, also known as drawing, consisting of reheating quenched steel at a temperature below the transformation range to decrease hardness and increase toughness.

Transformation Temperature
The temperature at which a change in the molecular structure of the steel occurs, also referred to as the critical temperature. Transformation temperature varies depending on the carbon and alloy content of the steel.

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