Stress Relieving Steel in a Heat Treat Furnace

Stress relief heat treatment is used to remove stress induced in metals from various manufacturing methods. Some of these methods include: milling, turning, welding, bending, heating, cooling, shearing, forging, sawing, grinding, not to mention the steel making processes that leave the metal full of residual stresses. These stresses can cause harmful distortion, brittle fracture, and stress corrosion cracking near welds and within some grades of metal.

Removing residual stress is a time/temperature related event with a very controlled cooling cycle using your Cress Furnace. If not carried out correctly, new residual stresses can be produced that will result in greater stresses than the part had originally. To remove stresses it is recommended that you consult the mill literature for the grade of metal to determine what the Ac1 temperature is for your application. There are several methods to remove stresses successfully, but the most commonly used method is heat treat stress relief. The main criteria to use for choosing the correct temperature is to heat below the lower austenizing temperature (Ac1). Decarburization will take place above 960oF, so protect the surfaces if the surface is not going to be removed by machining.

Thus, if we have a 4140 steel part, (4140 has a 1380oF Ac1) that we want to stress relieve, we could place it in our Cress furnace, take it up to 1100oF and soak it for 6 hours, followed by controlled cooling at a rate of lowering it at 50 to 75oF per hour, in a closed furnace, to below 400oF, at which point it can be removed from the furnace, and it would be stress relieved. However, if you heated it to 1300oF, you can soak it for just an hour, followed by the controlled cooling and also stress relieve the part.