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Tempering of steel is a process in which hardened or normalized steel is heated to a temperature below the lower critical temperature and cooled at a suitable rate, primarily to increase ductility, toughness, and grain size of the matrix. This article provides an overview of the variables that affect the microstructure and mechanical properties of tempered steel, namely, the tempering temperature, tempering time, carbon content, alloy content, and residual elements. Tempering after hardening is performed to relieve quenching stresses and ensure dimensional stability of steel. The article discusses the embrittlement problems associated with tempering. Four types of equipment are used for tempering, namely, convection furnaces, salt bath furnaces, oil bath equipment and molten metal baths. Special procedures for tempering are briefly reviewed.

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