Steel oxidation cannot be avoided as the metal is being heat processed in a normal atmosphere. Only certain preventive measures can shield tool steel or keep the oxygen away. Below you will find out the three most reliable methods.
During the heat treatment of steel, a reaction occurs in the presence of oxygen. Carbon molecules in the steel are burnt out and this process is known as decarburization. This leads to oxide buildup and , in consequence, the steel is no longer suitable to the application. This is why engineers have to rely on a protective method.
Creating a protective atmosphere is an efficient solution in preventing oxidation. For this to be effective, the furnace has to be emptied of its air content, then filled with a neutral gas such a nitrogen. In an atmosphere like this, the processed steel is no longer reacting and can be keep all the desired properties when hardened. As for the costs, this is seen as the more moderate option of the three available ones.
The furnace has to be emptied of all its air content in order for this to be effective. As the oxygen is taken out, there can no longer be a reaction as the tool steel is heated. While this may actually sound easier than the process above, it isn’t always so. It requires a well sealed furnace and a good vacuum procedure. The equipment as well as the maintenance costs incurred make this solution a very expensive one, however.
When tool steel is processed at a temperature of 2,000 F, it calls for the use of heat treatment foil. A steel foil which is resistant to high temperatures is employed to protect the tool steel. Such foils are regularly made of grade 321 steel and have a thickness under half a millimeter. Manufacturers and toolmakers find this method to be the most affordable one. The wrap encloses the steel to be treated, thus recreating the conditions of a vacuum furnace described above when airtight.
If you are contracting a steel processing company to manufacture your tools, you must ask first about the method they use for protection. The costs can vary greatly. Also, a method can be deemed unsuitable if it doesn’t go well with a certain steel grade that you happen to be working with.happy wheels
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