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Steel Normalizing vs. Annealing

May 6th, 2021

Annealing and normalizing are two heat treatment processes that Specialty Steel Treating can perform on steel products. Both processes offer unique advantages for your manufacturing process. Whether creating tooling, automotive parts or other industrial components, compare annealing and normalizing today to determine the best treatment process for your steel products.

Benefits of Normalizing Steel

Create a steel product that matches your manufacturing requirements through normalizing. Many industries benefit from the added performance characteristics of this specialized heat treatment. Review the benefits of this process when applied by an experienced heat treatment team:

  • Increased ductility
  • Improved toughness
  • Faster cooling process

Create a more machinable, formable product through the normalization process. These benefits come from heating the material to a high temperature and then reducing it to room temperature during the cooling process. Throughout the recovery, recrystallization and grain growth stages, the material gains these properties in less time than the annealing process.

During the recovery phase, your chosen material is heated to a high temperature to reduce internal stresses. The next phase heats your product to the recrystallization temperature, which varies between materials. This allows for new grains without melting the material.

Finally, the grain growth stage is controlled through the room-temperature cooling process. The fully cooled component is now ready for additional processing, packaging or installation.

Review the metals that can be normalized as you explore your heat treatment options. The final characteristics of your products are dependent on the material used just as much as the heat treatment used, so work with your heat treatment provider to determine the optimal alloy and grade for your process. Here are the common materials that can be normalized:

  • Aluminum
  • Iron-based alloys
  • Copper
  • Nickel-based alloys
  • Brass

Tool steel, stainless steel and tool steel are popular options. These materials gain the machinability necessary to create custom tooling or other industrial products. Normalizing reduces the brittleness of carbon steel and reduces the hardening that occurs during the forming process of ferritic stainless steel automotive stampings.

Differences Between Normalizing and Annealing

Both annealing and normalizing offer distinct benefits for various industrial uses. These two heat treatments use high temperatures to heat materials above their recrystallization point, then slowly cool them down. While some key steps change, the primary goal of both is typically to increase ductility through a microstructural change.


Annealing uses a slower cooling rate than normalizing. This slow process creates higher levels of ductility, but lower levels of hardness. It’s also a more time-consuming heat treatment, which means it requires a larger investment due to the extended furnace time.

This treatment is a popular option if you’re looking for maximum levels of ductility, but it sacrifices some hardness and investment in the process. The initial temperature and overall process, however, are relatively similar between these two treatments.

Consider the furnace availability and ductility requirements before choosing this process. The cost-savings of normalizing alone often make it a more attractive option, but annealing may be necessary if you need greater levels of ducility than possible with a normalized product.


Normalizing is used to reduce residual stresses in materials and create a more formable product. It’s a cost-effective way to reduce the risk of unexpected failures. Instead of waiting for a controlled cooling rate, normalized products are immediately exposed to room-temperature air until fully cooled. This can be performed in a separate area outside a furnace, allowing for a faster and more convenient process.

Both treatment options offer advantages depending on your manufacturing goals. Discuss the pros and cons of normalizing and annealing with your team at Specialty Steel Treating to determine the optimal treatment to help you create industry-leading components.

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Specialty Steel Treating Inc Reviews

Wayne Thomas
Wayne Thomas
17:55 19 Jun 17
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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