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Steel is an important material because of its tremendous flexibility in metal working and heat treating to produce a variety of mechanical, physical, and chemical properties. The purpose of this chapter is to present the metallurgical principles of heat treatment of steel in a generalized manner. The chapter provides a discussion on the constitution of commercially pure iron, subsequently leading to discussion on the iron-carbon alloy system. The chapter also describes the effect of carbon on the constitution of iron and of the solubility of carbon in iron. It provides information on transformations and on the classification of steels by carbon content. The chapter ends with a discussion on the effect of time on transformation and on the use of time-temperature-transformation diagrams.

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