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Case Study: Precipitation hardening stainless steel

Nevada Heat Treating has a successful track record with helping customer resolve difficult heat treating problems. We are industry experts when it comes to the different aspects of heat treating and all of the related processes. Although our core competencies are in the areas of age hardening, atmosphere heat treating, bright annealing, case hardening, normalizing, stress relieving, and vacuum heat treating, when customers come to us with a unique challenge, we have been very successful with coming up with solutions that meet their delivery, quality and cost expectations. We work extensively with our customers to guarantee we meet their specifications. We study their parts and processes to come up with the optimum heat treating service for their particular need. One of the many examples of this is listed below with a process called precipitation hardening (PH) or precipitation strengthening.

Nevada Heat Treating was presented with a unique challenge: reduce overall product cost of heat treating precipitation stainless steels hardening while maximizing their mechanical properties. Precipitation hardening involves heating a precipitation-hardenable alloy to an intermediate temperature to allow a fine dispersion of precipitates to form in the surrounding matrix. This is due to solid-state diffusion of the precipitating alloy within the surrounding metal, leading to a substantial hardening of the alloy. Normally, precipitation hardening stainless steels are processed in an open air atmosphere. This produces oxides on the surfaces of the part(s), due to chemical reactions with oxygen and other impurities. To eliminate these oxides from forming, Nevada Heat Treating determined that processing these stainless steels in a vacuum would be the best course of action. Additionally, the parts wouldn’t require further cleaning operations, such as passivation, sand blasting or pickling. This would reduce overall costs, thereby saving the customer substantial amounts of manufacturing lead time in getting the parts to the customer. After determining the parameters and running the precipitation strengthening cycle, the process was a success. The customer was able to deliver their parts on time and under budget.