Part 2 – “Caveat Emptor” is a Latin saying and means ‘Let the Buyer Beware’

Our company is using a commercial heat treater and we’re getting good results. Why should we buy a Cress furnace and do the heat treating in house?

This is one question that we hear over and over again and there are arguments to steer the answer in both directions.  We’re going to look at several scenarios so that you can select the correct solution for your company.  Not all heat treaters operate this way, but with the high cost of energy, some are forced to take steps to keep costs low to stay competitive.


You’ve created a tool, a part or series of parts in your machine shop that you need for your operations, or your customer’s requirements.   The designer has chosen A2 tool steel and specifies a hardness of 60 to 62 Rc is needed.  The part or parts could weigh 2 pounds, or 50 pounds and may have taken five hours, five days, or five weeks to make.  Regardless of the time, your company has invested time and money into producing the parts to satisfy a need.  You package the parts up, ship them off to the heat treater and ask them to be heat treated to 60 to 62 Rc.

Scenario Number Two

This is one of my biggest complaints about commercial heat treaters.  The parts arrive, a job ticket is written up.  The job is assigned to a person on the floor who often has no formal training in handling parts or heat treating for that matter.  The company metallurgist sat in their lab and only is called to verify the process to be applied if the leadman, or shop foreman can’t find the process in his private notebook.  The only time the metallurgist gets involved is if the hardness level is incorrect, and you know that the owner of the company will always be in his office concerned with bill paying or sales.

Bottom line of this scenario….. Even if the hardness reads correctly, you have no absolute assurance the times, temperatures, pre-heat, quench or tempering cycles were followed to the prescribed recipe.  Your part quality is at risk.  The life of the part is at risk along with your reputation. Your only hope is to request and pay extra for strip chart recordings of every step of the parts in process.  Even then there are things that can effect the quality of the finished product.

The material presented in this article is intended for general educational information only.  It should not be used for a specific application without careful analysis and study of the in¬tended use.  Anyone using this information or relying on it assumes all risk and any liability arising from their applications and use.