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FALL 2013

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Distributor's Link Magazine Fall Issue 2013 / VOL 36 / NO.4

14 THE DISTRIBUTOR’S

14 THE DISTRIBUTOR’S LINK Guy Avellon Guy Avellon has been in the MRO and fastener distribution industry for over 30 years. He began his metallurgical engineering career at Republic Steel Research Center in metal coatings and has since held positions as sales engineer; Chief Engineer; Manager of Product Marketing, Product Engineering and Quality and Director of Quality and Engineering. He founded GT Technical Consultants where he performs failure analysis, presents lectures on fastener safety, worked for law firms and designs and audits Quality systems. He is a member of SAE and is Vice Chairman of the ASTM F16 Fastener Committee and Chairman of the F16.01 Test Methods Committee, since 1988. He also received the ASTM Award of Merit in 2005. Guy and his wife, Linda currently reside in Lake Zurich, IL and may be reached at 847-477-5057 or visit his website at http://www.BoltDoc.com. THE IMPORTANCE OF PROPER HEAT TREATING The heat treatment of steel is an art and an exact science. It is a delicate process that can in an instant, change the performance of the product without any external indications. That is, it may pass hardness and tensile strength but fail proof load testing or fail in service. Though complex, this article will try to bring understanding to this important process. First, steel is one of the few elements that can exist in more than one type of crystalline lattice structure, which is known as polymorphism. If the change in structure is reversible, then it is known as an allotrophic change. When iron crystalizes at 2800°F (1538°C) its lattice structure is a bodycentered-cubic (b.c.c. for short). It is also known as a delta iron. When the iron cools to 2554°F (1401°C) the structure changes to a face-centered-cubic lattice (f.c.c.), which is known as gamma iron and at 1670°F (912°C) the structure reverts back to a b.c.c. as an alpha iron. Medium carbon steels are hypoeutectic. An iron-iron carbide equilibrium diagram (shown below) will indicate the relationships of temperature and carbon to the solubility of iron in different stages: ferrite and pearlite to ferrite and austenite to a full austenitic structure. Also, as temperatures increase, the iron’s lattice structure changes from a face centered cubic (f.c.c.) to a body centered cubic (b.c.c.). Cold worked materials should be heat treated more slowly than stress-free materials to avoid distortion. During the heat treatment process, cap screws are brought to a controlled red hot temperature of 1666°F (912°C) in gas fired ovens. This temperature is usually above the upper critical temperature in order to form austenite. Time and controlled temperatures will produce steel with very high hardness: some steels will achieve a hardness up to 55 HRC. As a finished product, this is not desirable as the steel is brittle. Special monitors in the gas fired ovens control the natural gas and oxygen mixture to govern the free carbon atmosphere and avoid unintentional carburization or decarburization. Carburization would produce excessive surface hardness from the addition of carbon, while decarburization would rob the threads of their strength by removing carbon from the Figure 1 surface of the thread crests. The importance of exact temperatures, times and cooling rates are extremely critical, which is why these thresholds are called upper and lower critical temperatures. When steel is heated above its critical temperature, the crystalline structure changes to austenite. When the steel parts are withdrawn from the furnace, the parts begin to cool very rapidly. It is when the steel reaches a temperature of 1333°F (732°C) that it becomes necessary to control the cooling rate. This temperature is the lower transformation line, also known as the Eutectoid Temperature. It is the same for all iron and steels. please turn to page 166

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