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Most steels that are hardened are subjected to a subcritical heat treatment referred to as tempering. Tempering improves the toughness of as-quenched martensitic microstructures but lowers strength and hardness. This chapter describes the microstructural changes that occur during tempering and their effect on the mechanical properties of steel. It also discusses the effect of alloying elements and the formation of oxide colors.

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Tempering of Steel, Steels: Processing, Structure, and Performance, 2nd ed., By George Krauss, ASM International, 2015, p 373–403,

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