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Project Managers: Understanding The Thermal Processing Of Metals

by Sara Cook

If you are a project manager who is new to working in the manufacturing or construction industry, then it is vital that you understand both how and why metals are thermally processed. Thermal processing, also called tempering, is a proven process that both strengthens metals and allows for the application of specialized coatings onto their surfaces.

Here is some basic information for you on the processes of tempering and applying coatings to industrial metals:

Basics of Metal Tempering

Metals are heated so that they can be formed into usable sheets, rods, and pipes. During this process, the metal can lose some of its strength. To increase the resulting strength of the formed metals, they are tempered by being heated to near their melting point and then allowed to completely cool in ambient air. This process adds strength to the final product.

Basics of Metal Alloying

Metals are also alloyed to increase their strength. Alloying is the mixing together of two metals to take advantage of the benefits and strength of each of the metals in combination. Some of the most commonly alloyed metals you will work with are:

  • iron
  • strip steel
  • precious metals

In addition, non-iron metals are sometimes alloyed for unique applications.

Addition of Metal Coatings through Thermal Processing

There are many industrial applications that require coatings be placed onto the surface of metal. For example, metal parts that will be exposed to the environment or water are often coated to reduce rust. Additionally, metals are coated to:

  • improve the metal's ability to be recycled
  • lower the negative environmental impact of mining new metal ore bodies
  • resist corrosion and breakdown due to gas, water, or environmental exposure

Industrial Metal Coatings

Once metals have been formed and property tempered, they often receive a final coating layer. Some of the most common coatings used with metals are:

  • chrome
  • power-coat
  • color coatings

In addition, barrier coatings to resist breakdown and varnishes for a unique look are often applied as well.

Industrial Metal Coating Application

Industrial metal coatings can be applied in a wide variety of ways, including:

  • powder spraying
  • dip coating
  • fluid bed coating

Also, some metals are coated using a dip-spin process.


Now that you have a better understanding of the metal tempering and coating processes, you will be able to better manage your projects in the manufacturing or construction industry. For more information on the thermal processing of metals, contact a company like Pacific Metallurgical Inc.