Understanding the Metal Normalizing Process, Part 2

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Understanding the Metal Normalizing Process, Part 2

understanding metal normalizing process

In part one of this two-part blog, we looked at some of the basics of the normalizing heat treatment process for steel and other metals. This process, which involves rapid heating and then controlled cooling, is intended to increase the ductility of a metal while decreasing its hardness.

At Wasatch Steel, our steel services include helping you with all necessary treatments or processing needs. In today’s blog, we’ll go over some of the metals that are eligible to be put through the normalizing process, how this process itself actually works, and which common applications it’s used for today.

Metals That Can Be Normalized

There is a simple requirement for a metal to be eligible for normalizing: It must need to be “receptive” to this process, which means it has a microstructure that can be altered by heat treatment. There are some metal types this simply is not the case for, but most fall into this category. Some metals that can be put through the normalizing process include:

  • Steel: Tool steel, carbon steel and stainless steel can all be normalized
  • Other iron-based alloys, such as cast iron
  • Brass
  • Aluminum
  • Copper

Normalizing Process

The normalizing process follows three basic stages:

Stage 1 – Recovery: A furnace or another heat source is used to help raise the temperature of the material significantly. The goal is to relieve any internal stresses in the metal during this stage.

Stage 2 – Recrystallization: The metal is heated all the way above what’s known as its recrystallization temperature, but below its melting temperature. This process leads to the formation of new grains in the metal, grains that are present without any preexisting stresses present.

Stage 3 – Grain Growth: New grains are able to develop even further as the metal cools at room temperature. This contact with the air leads to a product that’s less hard but has more ductility.

It’s important to note that normalizing often isn’t the final process a metal is placed under. There are several other operations that might be used to further alter mechanical properties as well.

Useful Applications

Normalizing is used in several different industries. Here are a few examples of its wide range of uses:

  • Nuclear industry: Within this field, nickel-based alloys are often normalized following alterations to the thermal microstructure. These alterations are generally caused by previous welding processes.
  • Auto industry: Ferritic stainless steel stampings are regularly normalized for their use in the auto industry. This tends to come after these materials have gone through the forming process, which hardened them.
  • Work hardening: Across several industries, carbon steel is often normalized after cold-rolling to make it less brittle.

For more on how normalizing works or why it might benefit your metal, or to buy steel online or experience any of our steel services, speak to the pros at Wasatch Steel today.