Annealing is the process of softening steel after a previous thermal treatment. Annealing returns the steel’s matrix to its original condition. This annealed condition is ductile and malleable which allows forming and machining processes to be performed. Annealing is usually performed for two reasons.
Most steel produced at a mill, is supplied to the service center or end user in the annealed condition. During the manufacturing of steel bars and plates, steel undergoes tremendous stress. It is heated, bent, squeezed and rolled. This is performed repeatedly until it reaches its final shape. During these processes, the steel loses its ductility and malleability. One of the final processes in the production of steel is annealing. It is heated above its critical temperature and held there for a number of hours to return it to its original ductile and malleable condition. As a final step, most steel will undergo a machining or peeling operation to remove any decardurized layer that has been formed on the outside of the bar or plate.
For the complete heat treating procedure, including tempering charts, tips and tool steel data sheets, see our "Tool Steel Simplified" book.
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