Metal is one of the most versatile and widely used materials when it comes to construction. There are many different types of metals available, allowing for these versatile materials to be used in a variety of applications. In order to ensure that the metal components retain their strength over time, it can be beneficial to invest in thermal processing.
Here are three types of thermal processing that you should consider when treating your raw metal materials in the future.
1. Thermal processing to relieve stress.
Construction materials must withstand a tremendous amount of stress over the course of their lifetime. Metal alloys can contain minute stress fractures that weaken their integrity and make them susceptible to failure.
Thermal processing can be used to help eliminate these stress points. When stress relieving is the goal, raw steel is reheated to a high temperature and then cooled very slowly. This slow cooling process allows the residual stress from fabrication (welding, manipulation, etc.) to be eliminated so that the metal component can remain strong over time.
2. Thermal processing to create a smooth finish.
In many construction applications, the finish of metal components is important. Processed metal alloys often have a rough finish that can make them difficult to work with. Through a thermal processing method known as normalizing, this rough finish can be smoothed out.
When normalizing metal components, the metal is heated above the transformation point and then cooled in an environment where the air is agitated. This allows the grains within the steel alloy to become smaller and more refined, resulting in a smoother finish once the metal has completely cooled.
3. Thermal processing to facilitate fabrication.
Bending or transforming metal components is critical when it comes to implementing metal into construction projects. In order to ensure that raw metals are easy to work with, thermal processing can be used.
Through a process referred to as annealing, raw metal is heated to just below the transformation point. The heated metal is then cooled through a series of controlled cooling cycles to help soften the metal and improve its bending and forming capabilities. Annealing makes it easier to manipulate metal materials for use in major construction projects.
Once you are able to identify how thermal processing can be used to enhance the form and function of steel alloys, it's easy to see why thermal processing plays a critical role in preparing raw metals for use in modern construction applications.