The properties of steel can be changed in a process known as annealing, which uses heat in a controlled way. If you plan on performing this type of alteration to steel materials in your collection, these protocols can play a positive role.
Identify the Goal of Annealing
Before you put steel materials through annealing, you want to quickly review your reasons for seeking out this type of alteration. It will involve some special equipment and skill, so you want to make sure this service is indeed required. Typically, steels are annealed to achieve a couple of different things.
These include making steel more formable, preventing machining tools from damaging from steel fabrication, and taking care of residual stress. If any of these benefits makes sense for what you plan on doing with steel, then you should have complete faith in what annealing is able to provide at the end.
Use the Appropriate Furnace
In order to get steel heated up the right way as to change its properties, you'll need to use a furnace. It will be supplying the heat, but in order to do so in an effective and controlled way, make sure you use the right type of furnace.
You need one that first of all supports the size of your steel materials. You'll need to heat treat the material in its entirety, so getting a furnace that's properly sized is paramount. The furnace also needs to be capable of reaching certain high temperatures depending on the characteristics of your steel.
Utilize Slow-Cooling Processes
In order for steel to be annealed correctly where its molecules line up properly at the end, you have to cool steel properly. Annealed steel materials tend to turn out better when they are cooled in a gradual way.
Before you ever start this annealing process, find ways you can achieve a slow-cooling process so that your steel materials don't damage or leave you with undesirable characteristics. You may need to consult with an annealing expert to find out how long this cooling process needs to take place and what systems can aid it.
Annealing steel can give you certain properties that weren't possible before, such as steel that is a lot easier to work with. If you know how to perform this process using certain equipment and having the right controls in place, you'll end up with steel materials that are more desirable to work with.