3 Things You Might Not Know About Sheet Metal And The Annealing Process

Have you ever looked at steel and wondered how it's able to bend the way that it does? Perhaps you've watched construction workers building a skyscraper and wondered how those steel beams were bent into the perfect angle. Steel can be bent into coils and corners through a process called annealing. 

Through this process, steel can be turned into steel beams for skyscrapers, or even stainless steel for cabinets and counter tops. Here are a few things you might not have known about annealing metals.

What Is Annealing?

Simply put, annealing is the process in which cold steel is heated to a specific temperature so that it can be cut and shaped. As the metal is heated it becomes flexible, which allows it to be bent into various shapes, including coils.

There are five different types of annealing, which include;

  • Process annealing
  • Stress relief annealing
  • Spheroidization
  • Full annealing
  • Isothermal annealing

These processes help protect the integrity of the steel. Each process requires different temperature variations and cooling times.

Why Is It Done?

On its own, steel is too hard to bend into the shapes that are needed for manufacturing and construction purposes. Annealing allows the steel to be heated, shaped and cut without damaging the integrity of the metal. Once the steel is heated, formed and cooled through the annealing process, it will maintain its original strength and durability. Annealing will help prevent the still from becoming brittle during the cooling process.

You might think that annealing is the same as tempering a piece of steel, but they're two different processes. While both processes heat steel to a flexible state, that's really where the similarities end. Tempering makes steel weaker, whereas annealing actually increases the strength of steel.

Where Is This Type of Steel Used?

Steel often goes through the annealing process to be turned into stainless steel so that it can be used for various industrial purposes. Some of those industrial purposes include:

  • Fireboxes
  • Furnace dampers
  • Industrial oven liners

Once stainless steel has been through the annealing process, it can be shined to a variety of finishes, including brushed, tempered and bright. In addition to industrial uses, the strength and durability of stainless steel makes it a favorite for residential uses such as kitchen cabinets and counter tops.

The information provided above will help you understand the extensive annealing process that steel must go through before it can be used for industrial and manufacturing purposes. 

For further assistance, contact local sheet metal fabricator professionals, such as J&E Metal Fabricators.