Copper alloys‚ like all metallic materials‚ are made up of a microstructure of small crystals referred to as grains. Heat treating is an efficient way to change this structure and therefore the mechanical properties of the material. By doing this‚ the performance characteristics can be optimized for each alloy and its application.
Depending on the end-use of your copper product‚ application requirements generally are directed either toward mechanical properties or electrical conductivity. In some instances, it may be a combination of the two. Other related properties that may be considered regarding the ductility of copper include hardness and elongation.
Copper Heat Treating at Weldaloy
All of Weldaloy's heat treating is done in conformance with CDA (Copper Development Association) guidelines. Weldaloy has developed proprietary "recipes" within these guidelines to optimize mechanical properties and/or other characteristics.
Experience gained through experimentation and development of these recipes allows us to do 2 things:
- First‚ it allows us to optimize mechanical properties to the customer's application
- Second‚ it allows us to deliver consistency‚ so that each time a part is produced‚ it will perform exactly like the time before
Proprietary Copper Heat Treating Recipes
Weldaloy has developed proprietary "recipes" used to achieve specific properties for many copper heat-treatable alloys. Weldaloy is one of a few companies to develop such a specific expertise in the heat treating of forged copper.
Different heat-treatable alloys have unique heat treating "recipes" which generally consist of time & temperature variables that must be precisely followed in order to achieve the optimum balance. In addition‚ the method of heating‚ the furnace design and the furnace atmosphere contribute to the success of achieving the desired properties.
For each combination of desired properties‚ a different "recipe" must be used. For each heat treatable alloy‚ numerous tests have to be conducted and compared to the standards in order to develop a precise set of instructions for heat treating. Weldaloy is one of a few integrated nonferrous fabricators whose heat treating capabilities are specifically tailored to forged copper and aluminum. Only a handful have developed successful recipes for heat treatable copper alloys to the extent and degree that we have.
Importance of Precise Heat Treating
Heat treating has two major phases. The first is called high temperature solution heat treating. This phase is applied to dissolve all constituents and create a uniform metal matrix. The second phase is a lower temperature heat treating‚ called precipitation or age hardening‚ used to harden and strengthen the alloy.
The control of the heat treating process is critical to achieving specific results. In the high temperature phase‚ for example‚ overheating risks eutectic melting‚ which develops defects within the alloy and can result in a defective part. On the other hand‚ insufficient solution heat treating can lead to un-dissolved alloying constituents‚ resulting in undesirable properties.
In the low temperature phase‚ if the material is under-aged‚ the result is a weak‚ gummy alloy. If‚ on the other hand the material is over-aged it will result in a weak‚ brittle material.
Regular Inspections & Monitoring of Equipment
Regular monitoring of the heat-treating furnaces is required to maintain control on temperature variation within the furnace. Broken seals‚ damaged or cracked bricks‚ or air gaps create temperature variations in the furnace that can result in a non-uniform heat-treating of the material.
Weldaloy conducts daily inspections for quality control purposes on all furnaces. Complete mapping surveys are done on an annual basis to ensure temperature variation is understood and minimized.
Regular Furnace Inspections
Careful and regular monitoring and maintenance is required to control these potential problems and ensure that the desired balance of mechanical properties and or electrical conductivity can be reached.
Our services include annealing and/or stress relieving‚ solution heat treating with water quench and precipitation hardening of copper and aluminum alloys. Because these services are handled with precision and accuracy‚ they help contribute to our reliable delivery record.