Shine on!


By Steve Bailey

Heat-treating has been around so long many think of it as just another routine step in manufacturing. Manufacturers look for competitive prices, quick turn around and quality. But there are hidden costs and risk when heat-treating isn’t done right.

As an example, ABC Manufacturing has a batch of bright, shiny parts that are machined to key specifications and needs to be heat-treated. They want to ensure the parts will still be shiny after heat-treating. At this point they have invested in purchasing raw material, assessing vendors, machining processes and shipping. These are sunk costs that will not be recovered if something goes wrong in heat-treating.

When steel is heated to a fragile molten stage between 1400 to 2200 degrees Fahrenheit a lot of things can go wrong. Here is how to make sure the outcome is bright, right, and shiny:

  1. Review input. Check the part configuration, quality, and composition of the part to be treated to ensure treating will be successful.
  2. Review specifications. Look up the type of steel to determine temperature, cooling speed and type of furnace that will deliver best output.
  3. Identify appropriate furnace. Qualtek has several vacuum furnaces and controlled atmosphere furnaces. The size and type of material determines which furnace we use for a job.
  4. Check the efficiency and vacuum of equipment. Qualtek’s investment in new equipment delivers 100% controlled atmosphere. The better the vacuum is maintained in the furnace atmosphere the better we can protect parts from oxidation, scaling and discoloration.
  5. Report any problems before treating. After checking the part quality, composition, expected outcomes, and heating and cooling specifications, if there are concerns about meeting requirements our experts discuss options with clients before treatment.
  6. Consider the total cost of quality when comparing heat-treat bids. If a batch of parts is lost due to poor quality heat-treating you end up losing money. Quality is not always more expensive – just more careful. Working with knowledgeable experts can save you money.

Our clients trust Qualtek for tough or tricky jobs as well as routine jobs because we apply our expertise and quality control to make sure they get the best value. If you have tricky or routine heat-treat questions, please contact us at 719-598-3394.

Not Too Much, Not Too Little, Heat Treat Just Right

by Matt Seebeck

Heat-treating is part of a multi-step manufacturing process to get just the right shape, thickness, and hardness for your metal part. Some people use a rough rule of thumb of adding 20 thousandths (0.020”) on each side of the part for intermediate processing. Depending on variables such as material type, part size, and final application, that may be too much or too little. A part may grow or shrink during the heat treat process and this too can affect material usage. So how much intermediary volume should you allow?

We’ll answer your question with questions: What do you want to achieve? What other machining operations are required? What material are you using? Each material has a unique set of properties, which influence the heat treatment process. Tell us why you need to use that material and we can help you determine how much waste to allow for. Alternatively, we can recommend a different material that may achieve your goals.

Whether annealing a drill bit to increase its ductility or carburizing a part so that the outer layer is strong enough to withstand repeated use, we love working with machinists during the design phase, to help them meet the needs of their clients. Whatever your project, a quick call to Qualtek will help you determine specifications that save waste and increase efficiency.