Heat Treating - 1: The Heat Treating Process
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WARNING: Machine tools present a safety hazard. Improper operation can result in severe injury. These topics are for non-laboratory study only and are not to be used in conjunction with the operation of any tool or machine described herein. Never use a machine tool without the supervision of a qualified instructor.
A machinist will often be required to machine steels that have been previously heat-treated. It is important, therefore, that they be able to recognize that the steel has been heat treated and to understand how the treatment changed the steel. Armed with this knowledge the machinist can select the best machinery, cutting tools, and cutting conditions.
If a machinist works as a tool and die maker they will be working quite a bit with tool steels. These metal*s are machined in a soft condition, heat-treated to gain hardness, and then finish machined with a grinding or lapping process that can handle the hardness.

Other times a machinist may need to work on a weldment that - due to the welding process - has many internal stresses. They must stress relieve the weldment prior to machining to prevent distortion after machining. In this case the heat treating process is not to make the work piece harder. It is to make the work piece more machinable and, in truth, makes the metal* a bit softer.

Regardless of the reason for the heat treating, the basic process is the same and has three steps.

  1. Heat the metal* to a specific temperature
  2. Hold the metal* at that temperature for a specific amount of time
  3. Cool the metal* in a specific manner
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label: heat treating, annealing, normalizing, stress relieving,. qunench, quench temper, tool steels, hardness, Brinell, rockwell, alloyed steel, carbon contenet