Cryogenic Treatment

The emerging technology of cryogenic processing (also known as cryogenic treating or tempering) is quickly earning respect as a technique for increasing the durability and dimensional stability of manufactured parts. Originally developed by NASA, and once used primarily to extend the life of industrial tooling, cryogenic processing now holds exciting possibilities for manufacturers of products in every corner of the commercial realm. Much of the current enthusiasm is a result of research showing that wear resistance of tool steels can be significantly improved by slowly cooling the tool steel to cryogenic temperatures (-310F to -320F), and cold soaking the steel at this low temperature for a minimum of 20 hours. However, the treatment process has also been found to enhance the abrasive wear resistance of various alloys and plastic materials.

Unlike various surface treatments, cryogenic processing is a one-time treatment that affects the material throughout its entire structure. Residual stress relief, thermal and dimensional stability, and greater machinability-in addition to increased toughness-are among the main benefits of the technique, which has long been known to extend the service life of end mills, drill bits, cutting blades, punches, and dies. Now, with the popularity of the process on the rise, engineers are becoming increasingly aware of its effectiveness on steel parts, such as springs, wheels, shafts, bearings, gears, sprockets, and valve components. Other uses include gun barrels, aluminum softball bats and golf clubs, aerospace castings and components, and automotive brake parts (rotors and pads).

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