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Solution annealing, also called solution heat treating, or annealing, heats metal so that it can be easily shaped, stamped, forged, bent, or otherwise processed during manufacturing. When metal is annealed, it becomes more ductile and less brittle—the relative hardness, tensile strength, and yield strength are reduced, which makes the material easier to manipulate. 

 

There are a few different specialized furnaces that can be used during solution annealing, including:

  • Endothermic Process Furnace: ​This system uses endothermic gas to ensure the metal parts retain their desired properties, and that they don’t suffer decarburization. The overall gas composition must be monitored and precisely controlled to produce the desired results. 
  • Vacuum Furnace: A vacuum furnace ​protects heated steel and metal parts from oxidation and decarburization. Electricity is typically used to heat this type of furnace, and a vacuum seal is maintained throughout the process.
  • Air Circulating Furnace: This system features a series of chambers to circulate air and establish a uniform temperature. Air circulating furnaces are ideal for low temperature stress reliefs, low temperature anneals and drying materials.

Benefits of Annealing

Cold forming, drawing, bending, and other metalworking processes can cause a material to become hard and brittle. The annealing process reverses much of this effect, making it possible to perform other operations without cracking the piece.

The treatment releases mechanical stress that can be created during machining and grinding. It can protect metal against distortion if it’s exposed to high temperatures, such as prior to brazing. It can reduce unwanted phases and carbides. And it can prepare an already aged material to be re-hardened.

Materials

Aluminum, austenitic stainless steels and high-nickel alloys are commonly annealed. Injection molded and 3D printed parts are often annealed. Steels in the hardened state, such as 17-4 in H1050, are often solution annealed before re-hardening to H900.

Industrial Applications

Solution annealing is vital to many industries where the mechanical properties of a metal component are critical, including:

  • -Automotive
  • -Aerospace
  • -Computers
  • -Heavy Equipment

 

Solution Annealing From ThermoFusion

Solution annealing is more effective than simple stress-relief treatments and produces long-lasting results. It’s performed at temperatures of 1,600° F or higher for steel and copper, which requires proper equipment and a skilled, experienced team. At ThermoFusion, we have over 50 years of experience in heat treating, brazing, engineering, production, and manufacturing. Contact us today​ to learn how our solution annealing capabilities can help during your next project.

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