Annealing is a rather general term that refers to the heating of a metal or other material to a specific temperature and then letting it cool very slowly. The purpose of annealing is generally to soften, enhance ductility and improve cold working properties in various materials. It may also make materials more malleable, provide stress relief or create a new microstructure.
Annealing works by heating a material to a temperature that relieves its internal stress without causing deformation, and then cooling it at a rate that maintains its strength. Once a material has gone through the annealing process, it can more easily be cut, polished or drilled with less risk of fracture. Annealing ovens most often process metals, but they can process other materials as well, including glass and plastics.
Annealing ovens enhance the material softening operation by allowing their users to tightly control and closely monitor the heating and cooling process, as well as by allowing for proper recrystallization to occur within the material. Frequently annealed metals include aluminum, brass, copper, steel and other various alloys. While providing flexibility, annealing ovens also allow exceptional temperature uniformity.
Annealing ovens can be used within a variety of industries, including technology, transportation, aerospace, automotive, healthcare and industrial manufacturing. Annealing ovens have many customizable features to meet the specific needs of any potential user. They may be heated by various means, including gas burner systems, electric heaters and radiant panels.
Annealing ovens may also feature a full inert gas system, if needed, including seal welded interior panels, gas piping, control valves, flow meters and more. Air within ovens can flow vertically in a top-down or bottom-up arrangement, horizontally in a cross flow or in a combination of these.
Ovens may come equipped with differential airflow switches to alert a user of airflow loss, and they may be augmented with many types of conveying systems, product trays, floor tracks, product carts and floor designs. Other optional features of annealing ovens include: welded structural steel framework, heavy gauge aluminized or stainless steel interior sheeting and air distribution systems, hinged access doors, modular build, high-density insulation, digital controls, remote access controls and conformity to NFPA, IRI, FM, OSHA, JIC, NEC, UL and CE requirements, as necessary.