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Of the various thermal processing methods for steel, heat treating has the greatest overall impact on control of residual stress and on dimensional control. This article provides an overview of the effects of material- and process-related parameters on the various types of failures observed during and after heat treating of quenched and tempered steels. It describes phase transformations of steels during heating, cooling of steel with and without metallurgical transformation, and the formation of high-temperature transformation products on the surface of a carburized part. The article illustrates the use of carbon restoration on decarburized spring steels. Different geometric models for carbide formation are shown schematically. The article also describes the different microstructural features such as grain size, microcracks, microsegregation, and banding.

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