Solution treatment is a broad term in heat treating used to refer to the heating of a material to temperatures sufficient for the dissolution of its soluble phases. It is then held for a time until it is quenched, causing the material to retain the properties of the solution.
It is a process that softens the alloy and is commonly conducted as a step in the production of alloys that are intended to be used in further manufacturing applications. Annealing is a commonly used type of solution treatment, sometimes referred to as solution annealing.
Solution treatment procedures vary widely depending on the material being treated. Iron, nickel, cobalt, aluminum and other alloys commonly undergo some sort of solution treatment soon prior to manufacturing. The main variance in the type of solution treatment used stems from the temperature the material is heated to and the rate at which it is quenched.
For some materials, such as stainless steels, vacuum furnaces are often used for solution treatment because they remove gases from the atmosphere. Taking gases out of the equation prevents oxidation. Precipitation hardening is a common next step in the heat treating process, following an anneal and a quench.
Paulo’s approach to solution treating
The main differences in types of solution treatment concern the temperature the material is heated to, the amount of time it’s held at that temperature and the rate at which the material is cooled. All of these factors will vary based on the material that’s involved, so it’s important to choose an experienced heat treating partner for your solution treatment needs.
Paulo’s solution treatment capabilities deliver:
- Computer-controlled heating rates, soak temperatures and times and cooling rates
- Multiple thermocouples to ensure uniform temperatures across entire lots
- One-cycle solution treat and age, decreasing handling time and improving turnaround
- Fast cooling in high-pressure quenching vacuum furnaces to maintain desired microstructures
- Vacuum furnace design to eliminate oxidation, alloy depletion, carbon pickup and surface contamination
- Specialized fixturing to eliminate eutectic melting, surface contamination, distortion and recrystallization