Why Annealing Stainless Steel Is Often The Best Option
There are many different heat treatments which can be used on stainless steels and other types of steels. Choosing the right option is often more complicated than just choosing a single process for all parts and components.
In working with stainless steel, there are several reasons why heat treatments are selected. One of the most commonly selected heat treatments is annealing, with normalizing also used on a frequent basis.
Annealing stainless steel is a very specific and controlled process. The control in the process, both in heating and in cooling of the parts and components, has to be very precise. Heating above the ideal temperature or cooling too quickly can create additional internal stress in the part or component. While often not a visual problem, the internal stress in the part can lead to increased risk of part failure or problems with fatigue cracking.
The heat treating process of annealing stainless steel is typically completed before the metal, or the parts and components are further worked. By controlling the heat to just above the critical temperature, holding it at this temperature for a specific amount of time, and then allowing for slow air cooling, the internal stress is relieved at the molecular level, providing improved ductility.
In many types of applications, the process for annealing stainless steel is completed in controlled atmosphere furnaces. This ensures that there is no discoloration from oxidization during the process, leaving the natural brightness of the stainless.
The choice to anneal stainless steel will provide a part that is less likely to twist, bend or distort when machining operations and other types of secondary processes are required. This process can be completed in large batches in top heat treatment companies, providing large volume orders with extremely short turnaround times.