Metal tempering is an integral part of any metal fabrication operation, and it involves heating metal up to change its chemical makeup.
There are a number of different reasons that metal tempering is undertaken in the steel fabrication industry. Find out more about the important process below.
What is metal tempering?
Metal tempering is a heat treatment technique applied to ferrous alloys, such as steel or cast iron. Metal tempering is often undertaken with the aim of achieving significant levels of toughness and durability by decreasing the hardness of the alloy. The reduction in hardness is usually accompanied by an increase in ductility, thereby reducing the metal’s brittleness.
How is metal tempered?
Tempering metal can make it become stronger or softer, and allow you to do new things with the metal that you usually could not. First, the metal that you’re working on needs to be heated, with the entire piece of metal needing to be hot all over until it turns bright red or glowing orange in colour. Once the first heating process is over, water is poured over the metal, allowing it to cool. The metal is then reheated but only on the most important part of the project, or the “focus area.” This second reheating is what’s called “tempering”. Once the metal you’re working with is “tempered”, the metal piece is cooled on a steel surface. As the metal cools, it begins to solidify and increase in durability.
Why does metal tempering work?
It is important to know how metal is tempered but is also great to know why tempered metal actually works. Tempered metal becomes more durable for a number of reasons. First, the initial heating creates what’s called austuerising, forming a special alloy that contains carbon and iron. When this auesterised material is dunked in a bucket of water, the metal turns to Martensite. Martensite has crystal-like qualities, which makes the metal stronger than it was before. It is important to note, however, that metal tempering can be a tricky process and involves significant skill to master and achieve flawless results.
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