Heat treating is much more than one of the services that CFI provides to its customers. Instead, it is a fascinating metallurgical process that has a rich history that has roots in the Bronze Age. This process heats the metal up to extreme temperatures in order to alter the most basic characteristics of the metal – making it stronger.
In its earliest history, blacksmiths were effectively heat treating metals by quenching metals during the construction of early metal objects such as weapons, horseshoes, and more.
The actual chemical process affects metal at its most basic level. In its standard form, metal is granular and crystalline. Heat treatment effectively normalizes the metal at a chemical level, allowing us to manipulate its properties and controlling the rate of diffusion and cooling within the microstructure. This process allows us to manipulate many different characteristics of the metal including its hardness, strength, elasticity and more. Typically, heat treatment is a process that goes hand-in-hand with the alloy process because metals are at their most soluble state at high temperature.
When the metals are in this soluble state, the atoms diffuse, or spread out, forming a homogenous distribution of the crystals of the base metal. These processes allow us to strengthen almost any metal at the molecular level.
However, what has taken decades of fine tuning is finding the proper temperatures for heat treatment. If a temperature is too hot, the metal may become extremely hard but brittle, too cold it may be too soft and malleable. Fine tuning is the name of the game in heat treatment.
It’s a truly incredible process, but heat treating isn’t the only thing that CFI is capable of. Cold treatment is also within our bag of tricks. Cold working also increases the strength and hardness of an alloy much in the same way that heat treatment does, and it requires the same level of fine tuning.
Fast forward a few thousand years from its roots in the Bronze and Iron Ages, and refine the techniques as much and CFI heat treats several types of metal for a variety of uses. We can heat treat metals and glass for aerospace, automotive use and more.