The solution annealing heat treatments process known as solution annealing is one of the most important steps in any metal alloy fabrication. It is done to relieve work hardening and to prepare the material for further processing, particularly cold forming or drawing. This process is also done to promote homogeneous material properties and improve machinability.
What metals can be heat treated?
The process begins by heating the material to the solution annealing temperature for a short period of time, which is generally below its critical transformation temperature. Once the material has soaked for an adequate amount of time, it is rapidly quenched using water or cool air to prevent carbon’s reprecipitation. This solution anneal is used to create a single phase microstructure in the material, which helps eliminate stress, and enhances ductility, corrosion resistance, and machinability.
The solution anneal is especially important in the case of 300 series austenitic stainless steels, which can suffer from high internal stresses that make them difficult to machine. These stresses can cause your parts to bow, twist, and warp during the precision machining process. This can result in costly downtime and poor part quality. In addition, the stress can cause unwanted precipitate formation within the grain boundaries of your parts. These precipitates can be chromium carbides that contribute to intercrystalline corrosion and can reduce the strength, ductility, and toughness of your parts. The bright solution anneal eliminates these stresses, increases ductility and toughness, and prepares the material for further processing by reducing the risk of corrosion, fracture, or cracking.