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Heat Treating

Normalizing services for metal and metal components

Normalizing is a high temperature austenitizing heating cycle followed by cooling in still or agitated air that is performed for a variety of reasons but primarily is performed to homogenize the microstructure and remove any segregation or non-uniformities that may exist at the microscopic level. Normalizing will typically produce a uniform pearlitic structure in combination with either ferrite grains or grain-boundary carbides present depending on the base material's carbon content.

Normalization may increase or decrease the strength and hardness of a given steel in a given product form, depending on the thermal and mechanical history of the product.

The functions of normalizing may overlap with or easily be confused with those of annealing, hardening, and stress relieving. Improved machinability, grain-structure refinement, homogenization, and reduction of residual stresses are the primary reasons that normalizing is performed. Homogenization of castings by normalizing may be done in order to break up or refine the as-cast dendritic structure and facilitate a more uniform response to subsequent hardening. Similarly, for wrought products, normalization can help reduce banded grain structure due to hot rolling, as well as large grain size or mixed large and small grain size due to forging practice.


Depending on the mechanical properties required, normalizing may be substituted for conventional hardening when the size or shape of the part is such that liquid quenching might result in cracking, distortion, or excessive dimensional changes. Thus, parts that are of complex shape or that incorporate sharp changes in the section may be normalized and tempered, provided that the properties obtained are acceptable.

The rate of cooling significantly influences both the amount of pearlite and the size and spacing of the pearlite lamellae. At higher cooling rates, more pearlite forms, and the lamellae are finer and more closely spaced. Both the increased amount of pearlite and the greater fineness of the pearlite result in higher strength and higher hardness. Conversely, lower cooling rates result in softer parts.

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