Did you know that tempered steel has been around for centuries? In feudal Japan, bladesmiths would make weapons using tempered metal. They would often place clay around parts of a steel sword, stick it into a furnace and then quench the blade in water.
Although the product may look a little different today, tempered steel is just one of the many heat-treated materials offered here at Mead Metals. To truly comprehend tempered steel, it’s important to understand the benefits of heating steel as a method of strengthening metal.
What Is Tempering?
Tempering is the process of heating steel to a high temperature, though below the melting point, then allowing it to cool in still air. This process improves the machinability of the hardened steel while reducing the risk of cracks due to internal stresses.
What’s the Difference Between Annealing, Hardening, Tempering, And Quenching?
The difference between annealing, hardening, and tempering comes down to how the steel is treated.
- Annealing — Heating steel to a specified temperature and allowing it to cool at a prolonged and controlled rate. This is done to soften the metal.
- Hardening — Heating steel above the critical temperature and cooling it rapidly, thus transforming it into a harder and stronger structure.
- Tempering — Heating metal to a precise temperature (below the critical point). This is often done to reduce the brittleness of a quenched metal.
- Quenching — Rapidly cooling metal to adjust the mechanical properties of its original state. This occurs after the metal is heated to a temperature greater than normal conditions.
What Are the Benefits of Tempering?
Here are some of the key benefits associated with tempered steel:
- Increased durability — The heat treatment process adds to the shelf life of any steel component.
- Speed — Tempering steel is a much quicker process than other heat treatments such as annealing.
- Strength — Bathing the metal in a constant heat flow ensures the steel stands the test of time.
What Are the Uses of Tempered Steel?
As mentioned before, tempered steel changes the mechanical properties of metal to incorporate beneficial elements such as added strength and resistance. This makes it a good material for tools, structural steel, and even swords!
We utilize this treatment process to create tempered spring steel. With added yield strength, objects made of tempered spring steel can return to their original shape after significant bending or twisting. Mead Metals offers this product in various grades, sizes, and quantities to meet your exact needs.
What Is the Best Way to Temper Steel?
While the process of steel tempering is relatively simple, the specifications for each grade, steel, and alloy are exact. It begins by elevating the metal to a set temperature point — one that is below its lower critical temperature.
Once the metal reaches the desired temperature, it is held there for a specified time. Following the dwell time, the furnace is turned off as the steel is cooled at a specific rate.
Factors such as temperature requirements, cooling temperature, cooling methods, and speed all hinge on the specific steel type being tempered. Because of this, an array of devices may be used in the tempering process, including gas furnaces, electrical furnaces, or even induction furnaces.
Count on Mead Metals For Tempered Steel
If you’re searching for tempered steel products, look no further. With various grades, sizes, and quantities, we can fulfill any tempered steel needs at the right time (and for the right price!).