Aluminum Science and Technology
The fundamental objective of quenching is to preserve, as nearly as possible, a metastable solid solution formed at the solution heat treating temperature, by rapidly cooling to some lower temperature, usually near room temperature. This article provides an overview of the factors used to determine a suitable cooling rate and the appropriate quenching process to develop a suitable cooling rate. It discusses the three distinct stages of quenching: vapor stage, boiling stage, and convection stage. The article reviews the factors that affect the rate of cooling in production operations. It discusses the quenchants that are used in quenching aluminum alloys, namely, hot or cold water and polyalkylene glycol. The article also describes the racking practices for controlling distortion and the level of residual stresses induced during the quench.