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Air Quenching: What is it and How is it Useful

February 19th, 2019

While many metal fabricators will be familiar with steel heat treatment, not everyone is as familiar with the term air quenching. As Specialty Steel Treating, Inc. is an established and respected heat treating company, we understand the importance of air quenching steel for tools to aid in the manipulation of a variety of properties, like ductility, strength, elasticity and hardness, but what exactly is air quenching and how does it relate to the heat treatment process?

Quenching Definition

air quenching steelQuenching is described as the process of rapidly cooling metal during the heating process. This process is critical to returning metal back below its critical temperature. While quenching is a blanket term to refer to the cooling process, there are two methods typically used to attain this result: Fluid quenching and air quenching.

Fluid quenching or oil quenching utilizes chemicals or other liquids to cool the piece. The substances most often used are water, oil or brine. Essentially, a heated metal piece is either submerged in a cooling bath, or the liquid is forced over the part to cool it down.

Air quenching is similar to fluid quenching in that a cooler source is used to bring down the temperature of a workpiece. Air quenching utilizes either air of inert gases that are then forced over the piece to cool it down.

Importance in the Hardening Process

Using an air quenching cooler boiler aids in the hardening process of metals. To harden metals, they must first be heated and then cooled at varying rates, depending on the specific alloy being hardened. As the material cools, it may become brittle which then requires tempering of the substance.

Prior to hardening, many substances that are commonly accepted as durable and strong, like cast steel and iron, are actually soft due to their uniform and layered grain structure, which consist of a mixture of ferrite and cementite called pearlite. By heating these substances and this mixture past a certain temperature and then rapidly cooling it through the quenching process, the pearlite substance is then transformed into a substance known as martensite, which is highly durable and resistant to distortion.

Uses of Air Quenching Steel and Other Material

While quenching may seem limited in its applications, the process is necessary for a variety of manufacturing and industrial applications; for instance, air quenching aluminum or other alloys for specific applications and designs. The method of quenching allows for the hardening of materials at different rates, but this variability leads to the production of useful metals and elements and tools, like cutting blades and other industrial components. The ability to create strong and durable alloys that have a distinct resistance to distortion and flex allows for solid metals and further structural fabrication.

While the exact definition of air quenching may be lost on many consumers and even some industry professionals, the process is invaluable to the metal fabrication and construction industries. There are a variety of uses for quenching and not every application will require the same level of hardening, but the quenching process allows for reliable metalworks that are both durable and long lasting.

If you are unsure of the benefits of quenching or are interested in using air quenching as opposed to fluid quenching, then contact Specialty Steel Treating, Inc. today. A representative will be happy to walk you through all of your heat treating options, ensuring that you are well aware of the best practices for your specific application. Don’t depend on information from outside sources, talk to a knowledgeable professional, someone who understands the merits of the overall treatment process, and can provide you with the answers to all your heat treatment questions and concerns.

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Specialty Steel Treating Inc Reviews

“Before I retired, I was the coordinator for our plant’s aerospace, and precision heat treated product, and SST. I couldn’t have asked for better quality, and service. I recommend them 100 percent.”
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5/13/2018

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