If you know anything about heat treatment of metals, including stainless steel, you have heard about annealing. This is a process commonly employed to make metals more ductile and less brittle. As well, annealing reduces the number of internal stresses, therefore decreasing the tendency of certain metals and materials to distort and crack. One form of this process is called bright annealing.
What Is Bright Annealing?
Bright annealing is a version of annealing. It is the result of heating (annealing) the metal within a specific type of furnace – one in which the atmosphere is carefully controlled. The atmosphere is inert or exists in a vacuum. The environment created is a protective one. It prevents oxidation and/or surface contamination of the metal. The result is the “bright” or reflective surface.
Factors Affecting the Success of Bright Annealing
When implementing bright annealing a number of factors have to be carefully considered. In all instances, you must keep the surfaces clean. They must be completely free of any foreign matter. The atmosphere must be kept free of oxygen. Also of particular importance is the relationship between time and temperature. The treatment company must be certain to carefully watch, balance and control the cycles for these two factors. By instituting specific practices in the facility, these levels can be met and maintained easily.
Why Choose Bright Annealing?
One of the major reasons manufacturers opt for bright annealing is the final appearance. The process does not dull the metal. Stainless steel, for example, will emerge “bright” and shiny. Yet, it is more than the appearance that proves to be important in choosing this method. By annealing using the vacuum method, those companies in charge of the treatment can:
* Remove the chances of undesirable oxidation * Better control both the heating and cooling processes * Provides them greater ability to handle products of diverse dimensions * Can cool the product more rapidly than other forms of annealing
The results are similar to most forms of annealing. Bright annealing:
* Exhibits a bright, clear surface * Is easier to machine * Is more facile to form * Relieves internal stresses * Refines the crystal structure of the component
Bright annealing, as a result is often a win-win situation for manufacturer and metal treating company alike.
Bright Annealing: A Potential Choice for Specific Metals
In some heat-treating processes, a manufacturer may want more than to improve the physical and chemical properties of their metal component or product. They want to ensure it has an attractive appearance. When this is the case, treating companies can turn to an annealing process that provides the surface of the metal with a bright and reflective surface. To accomplish this, companies choose bright annealing.