Stress Relieving of Tool Steel

Stresses are induced into a tool through the processes of forming, machining, grinding and hardening. These stresses can be catastrophic to a tool.Stress relieving tool steel can help avoid catastophe.

Stresses are usually hidden from the naked eye, and show up in many forms. There are cracks, tears and heat-induced stresses. Ultimately these stresses may results in failure of the tool, if not properly treated.

Cracks are formed from an extreme amount of stress introduced into a relatively small area. Microscopic cracks can be treated, but larger more visible cracks will likely be catastrophic, even if treated, and should be replaced.

Tears are usually formed from a milling or turning operation where the material is torn away from the tool. If let untreated these tears could possibly turn into cracks. Tears are frequently visible to the naked eye but many times they are ignored. Microscopic tears have more stress added when the tool goes through the hardening process and can form cracks from the additional stress.

Heat-induced stresses are formed when the tool is subjected to an operation where heat is used or generated. Most commonly there operations include electrical discharge machining, grinding or high-speed turning. Heat-induced stresses are almost always visible but the degree of stress in the tool can’t always be determined by visual examination. Heat-induced stresses usually show up as burn marks from a machining or grinding operation and as a discoloration from an EDM operation.

Stress relieving is the process that the tool undergoes to remove these stresses. There are two types of stress relieving. There is stress relieving in the annealed condition or the hardened condition.

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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