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Dimensional and shape changes caused by heat treatment have been the subject of scientific and industrial research for a very long time. This article provides an overview of the complexity of distortion and stress generation during heat treatment of steels. It discusses the measurement and evaluation of dimensional and shape changes with examples. The article describes the mechanisms at work during the generation of stresses and distortion during heat treatment. A hypothetical experiment with increasing application to real life is used to develop a systematization of unavoidable size and shape changes. The article also provides information on the carriers of distortion potential that cause measureable size and shape changes.

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