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United States Patent Application 20120018061
Kind Code A1
Tyl; Thomas ;   et al. January 26, 2012

LIQUID QUENCH

Abstract

A liquid quench is disclosed. In one embodiment, a liquid quench apparatus for rapidly cooling a metal strand product includes: a chamber to hold a liquid, configured for placement under a drawn metal stand product, and defined by a length of a predetermined, adjustable value selected to create a desired temperature upon the stand product in a predetermined amount of time; a liquid quenchant disposed within the chamber with which to cool the strand product; a means to raise the liquid quenchant above a height of the strand product to rapidly cool the strand product to the desired temperature in the predetermined amount of time within the predetermined chamber length; and a means to adjust the temperature of the liquid quenchant to the desired temperature upon the stand product. In another embodiment, a system includes an austenitizing furnace, liquid quench, and air fluidized sand bed.


Inventors: Tyl; Thomas; (Siler City, NC) ; Tyl; Jeffrey Thomas; (Charlotte, NC)
Serial No.: 842024
Series Code: 12
Filed: July 22, 2010

Current U.S. Class: 148/559; 266/114; 266/128; 266/130
Class at Publication: 148/559; 266/114; 266/128; 266/130
International Class: C21D 9/52 20060101 C21D009/52; C21D 1/62 20060101 C21D001/62


Claims



1. A liquid quench apparatus for rapidly cooling a metal strand product, the apparatus comprising: a chamber to hold a liquid for placement under a drawn metal stand product, the chamber defined by a length of a predetermined, adjustable value selected to create a desired temperature upon the drawn metal stand product in a predetermined amount of time; a liquid quenchant disposed within the chamber to raise up and with which to quench the drawn metal strand product; a means to raise the liquid quenchant in the chamber to above a height of the drawn metal strand product above the chamber to rapidly cool the drawn metal strand product to the desired temperature in the predetermined amount of time within the adjusted predetermined chamber length; and a means to adjust the temperature of the liquid quenchant to the desired temperature upon the drawn metal stand product.

2. The liquid quench apparatus of claim 1, further comprising: at least one divider to separate the chamber into a plurality of sections to accommodate a plurality of banks of product, each bank having at least one drawn stand metal product, wherein each section is independently filled with the liquid quenchant.

3. The liquid quench apparatus of claim 1, further comprising: at least one adjustable partition to the chamber with which to adjust the length of the chamber to the predetermined, adjustable value selected to create a desired temperature upon the drawn metal stand product.

4. The liquid quench apparatus of claim 1, further comprising: a means to agitate the liquid quench to change a rate at which heat is removed from the drawn metal strand product.

5. The liquid quench apparatus of claim 4, wherein the means to agitate the liquid quench to change the rate at which heat is removed from the drawn metal strand product comprises a gas introduced into the liquid quenchant to increase the agitation.

6. The liquid quench apparatus of claim 1, wherein the means to raise the liquid quenchant above a height of the drawn metal strand product comprises a lifting pump.

7. The liquid quench apparatus of claim 1, wherein the means to adjust the temperature of the liquid quenchant to the desired temperature upon the drawn metal stand product comprises an electrical resistance heater.

8. The liquid quench apparatus of claim 1, wherein the means to adjust the temperature of the liquid quenchant to the desired temperature upon the drawn metal stand product comprises a heat exchanger.

9. The liquid quench apparatus of claim 1, further comprising: one or more water-based chemical additives to add to the liquid quenchant to modify a rate of heat extraction from the drawn metal strand product.

10. A system for treating a metal strand product, the system comprising: an austenitizing furnace to heat a strand product to above an A3, eutectoid, or Acm temperature; an air fluidized sand bed; and a liquid quench apparatus disposed between the austenitizing furnace and the air fluidized sand bed, the liquid quench apparatus having: a chamber to hold a liquid for placement under a drawn metal stand product, the chamber defined by a length of a predetermined, adjustable value selected to create a desired temperature upon the drawn metal stand product in a predetermined amount of time; a liquid quenchant disposed within the chamber to raise up and with which to quench the drawn metal strand product; a means to raise the liquid quenchant in the chamber to above a height of the drawn metal strand product above the chamber to rapidly cool the drawn metal strand product to the desired temperature in the predetermined amount of time within the adjusted predetermined chamber length; and a means to adjust the temperature of the liquid quenchant to the desired temperature upon the drawn metal stand product.

11. The system of claim 10, further comprising: a first set of rollers to divert the drawn metal strand product to the chamber for quench by the liquid quenchant.

12. The system of claim 11, further comprising: a second set of rollers to redirect the drawn metal strand product from the chamber after quench by the liquid quenchant.

13. The system of claim 10, further comprising: at least one divider to separate the chamber into a plurality of sections to accommodate a plurality of banks of product, each bank having at least one drawn stand metal product, wherein each section is independently filled with the liquid quenchant.

14. The system of claim 10, further comprising: at least one adjustable partition to the chamber with which to adjust the length of the chamber to the predetermined, adjustable value selected to create a desired temperature upon the drawn metal stand product.

15. A method of treating a metal strand product, the method comprising the steps of: utilizing a liquid quench apparatus having: a chamber to hold a liquid for placement under a drawn metal stand product, the chamber defined by a length of a predetermined, adjustable value selected to create a desired temperature upon the drawn metal stand product in a predetermined amount of time; a liquid quenchant disposed within the chamber to raise up and with which to quench the drawn metal strand product; a means to raise the liquid quenchant in the chamber to above a height of the drawn metal strand product above the chamber to rapidly cool the drawn metal strand product to the desired temperature in the predetermined amount of time within the adjusted predetermined chamber length; and a means to adjust the temperature of the liquid quenchant to the desired temperature upon the drawn metal stand product; drawing the metal strand product in a path at least partially defined over the chamber; and quenching the metal strand product with the liquid quenchant.

16. The method of claim 15, further comprising: utilizing a lift pump; raising the liquid quenchant in the chamber to above the height of the metal strand product; and overflowing the liquid quenchant back into the chamber.

17. The method of claim 15, further comprising: utilizing an electrical resistance heater; and adjusting, thereby, the temperature of the liquid quenchant to the desired temperature upon the drawn metal stand product.

18. The method of claim 15, further comprising: utilizing a heat exchanger; and adjusting, thereby, the temperature of the liquid quenchant to the desired temperature upon the drawn metal stand product.

19. The method of claim 15, further comprising: utilizing at least one divider; dividing the chamber into a plurality of sections to accommodate a plurality of banks of product, each bank having at least one drawn stand metal product; and filling, independently, each section with the liquid quenchant;

20. The method of claim 15, further comprising: utilizing at least one adjustable partition; and adjusting the length of the chamber to the predetermined, adjustable value selected, thereby creating the desired temperature upon the drawn metal stand product.
Description



FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0001] The technology described herein relates generally to the fields of metal heat treating processes, strand heating, fluidized sand beds, and quenching devices. More specifically, the technology described herein relates to a system and associated methods for a water-based liquid quench, of variable length and temperature, for use after austenitizing a plain carbon or alloyed steel strand product from above the A3, eutectoid, or Acm temperature to below the A1 temperature after which the strand product enters an air fluidized sand bed.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] A quench is a rapid cooling. In materials science, quenching is used to prevent low-temperature processes such as phase transformations from occurring by only providing a narrow window of time in which the reaction is both thermodynamically favorable and kinetically accessible. By way of example, in the treatment of metal products a quench is the rapid cooling of a hot metal object by placing it in a liquid quenchant in order to harden and strengthen it. The process is particularly suited for improving the breaking, tensile strength, and ductility of steel wire as is used in belted vehicle tires.

[0003] Known patents include U.S. Pat. No. 6,228,188, issued to Meersschaut et al. on May 8, 2001, which discloses a process of patenting at least one steel wire with a diameter less than 2.8 mm. The cooling is alternatingly done by film boiling in water during one or more water cooling periods and in air during one or more air cooling periods. A water cooling period immediately follows an air cooling period and vice versa. The number of the water cooling periods, the number of the air cooling periods, the length of each water cooling period are so chosen so as to avoid the formation of martensite or bainite. This invention cannot produce bainite or tempered martensite.

[0004] Known published patent applications include U.S. Patent Application Publication No. 2008/0011394, field by Tyl and published on Jan. 17, 2008, which discloses a thermodynamic metal treating apparatus and process utilizing a quenchant mixture of liquid and gas in a cell. Heated metal is passed over the heated quenchant mixture which contains a liquid and a gas such as air bubbled through the liquid at a desired rate. The process is particularly suited for improving the breaking, tensile strength and ductility of steel wire as is used in belted vehicle tires. A series of quenching cells allow for fast, uniform treatment of the metal wire. This method is efficient but more difficult to control since it uses a liquid quenching cell followed by cooling in foam. Further this method is limited in application since it cannot produce a tempered martensitic microstructure. This disclosure is incorporated by reference herein.

[0005] Other known background art includes using hazardous elements like lead or hazardous salts to cool material to pearlite or martensite followed by tempering in lead or a fluidized bed or induction in the case of a martensitic microstructure.

[0006] Other known background art also includes utilizing an air fluidized sand bed with or without an air fluidized quenching section held at a temperature lower than the soaking section of the fluidized bed. This equipment cools strand product much more slowly than film boiling liquid quenching resulting in a more coarse pearlitic microstructure. This method cannot produce tempered martensite.

[0007] The foregoing patent and other information reflects the state of the art of which the inventors are aware and is tendered with a view toward discharging the inventors' acknowledged duty of candor in disclosing information that may be pertinent to the patentability of the technology described herein. It is respectfully stipulated, however, that the foregoing patent and other information do not teach or render obvious, singly or when considered in combination, the inventors' claimed invention.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0008] In various exemplary embodiments, the technology described herein provides a system and associated methods for a water-based liquid quench, of variable length and temperature, for use after austenitizing a plain carbon or alloyed steel strand product from above the A3, eutectoid, or Acm temperature to below the A1 temperature after which the strand product enters an air fluidized sand bed.

[0009] In one exemplary embodiment, the technology described herein provides a liquid quench apparatus for rapidly cooling a metal strand product. The liquid quench apparatus includes: a chamber to hold a liquid for placement under a drawn metal stand product, the chamber defined by a length of a predetermined, adjustable value selected to create a desired temperature upon the drawn metal stand product in a predetermined amount of time; a liquid quenchant disposed within the chamber to raise up and with which to quench the drawn metal strand product; a means to raise the liquid quenchant in the chamber to above a height of the drawn metal strand product above the chamber to rapidly cool the drawn metal strand product to the desired temperature in the predetermined amount of time within the adjusted predetermined chamber length; and a means to adjust the temperature of the liquid quenchant to the desired temperature upon the drawn metal stand product.

[0010] The means to raise the liquid quenchant above a height of the drawn metal strand product can be a lifting pump.

[0011] The means to adjust the temperature of the liquid quenchant to the desired temperature upon the drawn metal stand product can be an electrical resistance heater. Alternatively, the means to adjust the temperature of the liquid quenchant to the desired temperature upon the drawn metal stand product can be a heat exchanger.

[0012] The liquid quench apparatus also can include at least one divider to separate the chamber into a plurality of sections to accommodate a plurality of banks of product, each bank having at least one drawn stand metal product, wherein each section is independently filled with the liquid quenchant.

[0013] The liquid quench apparatus further can include at least one adjustable partition to the chamber with which to adjust the length of the chamber to the predetermined, adjustable value selected to create a desired temperature upon the drawn metal stand product.

[0014] The liquid quench apparatus also can include a means to agitate the liquid quench to change a rate at which heat is removed from the drawn metal strand product. The means to agitate the liquid quench can be a gas introduced into the liquid quenchant to increase the agitation.

[0015] The liquid quench apparatus further can include one or more water-based chemical additives to add to the liquid quenchant to modify a rate of heat extraction from the drawn metal strand product.

[0016] In another exemplary embodiment, the technology described herein provides a system for treating a metal strand product. The system includes: an austenitizing furnace to heat a strand product to above an A3, eutectoid, or Acm temperature; an air fluidized sand bed; and a liquid quench apparatus disposed between the austenitizing furnace and the air fluidized sand bed, the liquid quench apparatus having: a chamber to hold a liquid for placement under a drawn metal stand product, the chamber defined by a length of a predetermined, adjustable value selected to create a desired temperature upon the drawn metal stand product in a predetermined amount of time; a liquid quenchant disposed within the chamber to raise up and with which to quench the drawn metal strand product; a means to raise the liquid quenchant in the chamber to above a height of the drawn metal strand product above the chamber to rapidly cool the drawn metal strand product to the desired temperature in the predetermined amount of time within the adjusted predetermined chamber length; and a means to adjust the temperature of the liquid quenchant to the desired temperature upon the drawn metal stand product.

[0017] The system also can include a first set of rollers to divert the drawn metal strand product to the chamber for quench by the liquid quenchant. The system further can include a second set of rollers to redirect the drawn metal strand product from the chamber after quench by the liquid quenchant.

[0018] The system also can include at least one divider to separate the chamber into a plurality of sections to accommodate a plurality of banks of product, each bank having at least one drawn stand metal product, wherein each section is independently filled with the liquid quenchant.

[0019] The system further can include at least one adjustable partition to the chamber with which to adjust the length of the chamber to the predetermined, adjustable value selected to create a desired temperature upon the drawn metal stand product.

[0020] In yet another exemplary embodiment, the technology described herein provides a method of treating a metal strand product. The method includes: utilizing a liquid quench apparatus having: a chamber to hold a liquid for placement under a drawn metal stand product, the chamber defined by a length of a predetermined, adjustable value selected to create a desired temperature upon the drawn metal stand product in a predetermined amount of time; a liquid quenchant disposed within the chamber to raise up and with which to quench the drawn metal strand product; a means to raise the liquid quenchant in the chamber to above a height of the drawn metal strand product above the chamber to rapidly cool the drawn metal strand product to the desired temperature in the predetermined amount of time within the adjusted predetermined chamber length; and a means to adjust the temperature of the liquid quenchant to the desired temperature upon the drawn metal stand product; drawing the metal strand product in a path at least partially defined over the chamber; and quenching the metal strand product with the liquid quenchant.

[0021] The method also can include: utilizing a lift pump; raising the liquid quenchant in the chamber to above the height of the metal strand product; and overflowing the liquid quenchant back into the chamber.

[0022] The method further can include: utilizing an electrical resistance heater; and adjusting, thereby, the temperature of the liquid quenchant to the desired temperature upon the drawn metal stand product.

[0023] The method also can include: utilizing a heat exchanger; and adjusting, thereby, the temperature of the liquid quenchant to the desired temperature upon the drawn metal stand product.

[0024] The method further can include: utilizing at least one divider; dividing the chamber into a plurality of sections to accommodate a plurality of banks of product, each bank having at least one drawn stand metal product; and filling, independently, each section with the liquid quenchant;

[0025] The method also can include: utilizing at least one adjustable partition; and adjusting the length of the chamber to the predetermined, adjustable value selected, thereby creating the desired temperature upon the drawn metal stand product.

[0026] Advantageously, the technology described herein is completely non-hazardous and can be completely environmentally friendly when an electrically heated fluidized bed is used. Also advantageously, the technology described herein provides for multiple chemistries and diameters to be processed simultaneously. Furthermore, no other technologies allow for direct measurement of strand product temperature before and after quenching. Still furthermore, no other technologies can produce a suitable microstructure when desiring pearlite, bainite or tempered martensite.

[0027] There has thus been outlined, rather broadly, the more important features of the technology in order that the detailed description thereof that follows may be better understood, and in order that the present contribution to the art may be better appreciated. There are additional features of the technology that will be described hereinafter and which will form the subject matter of the claims appended hereto. In this respect, before explaining at least one embodiment of the technology in detail, it is to be understood that the invention is not limited in its application to the details of construction and to the arrangements of the components set forth in the following description or illustrated in the drawings. The technology described herein is capable of other embodiments and of being practiced and carried out in various ways. Also, it is to be understood that the phraseology and terminology employed herein are for the purpose of description and should not be regarded as limiting.

[0028] As such, those skilled in the art will appreciate that the conception, upon which this disclosure is based, may readily be utilized as a basis for the designing of other structures, methods and systems for carrying out the several purposes of the present invention. It is important, therefore, that the claims be regarded as including such equivalent constructions insofar as they do not depart from the spirit and scope of the technology described herein.

[0029] Further objects and advantages of the technology described herein will be apparent from the following detailed description of a presently preferred embodiment which is illustrated schematically in the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0030] The technology described herein is illustrated with reference to the various drawings, in which like reference numbers denote like device components and/or method steps, respectively, and in which:

[0031] FIG. 1 is a schematic diagram of a system for the treatment of metal wire products illustrating system components and the wire path direction through an austenitizing furnace, liquid quench, and air fluidized sand bed, according to an embodiment of the technology described herein;

[0032] FIG. 2 is a side view schematic diagram of a liquid quench system, illustrating, in particular, an inner chamber to hold a liquid quenchant and the liquid lift and overflow at the wire path, according to an embodiment of the technology described herein; and

[0033] FIG. 3 is a top view schematic diagram of a liquid quench system, illustrating, in particular, one quenching tank and two wire banks and movable dividers to change a quench length within each wire bank, according to an embodiment of the technology described herein.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[0034] Before describing the disclosed embodiments of this technology in detail, it is to be understood that the technology is not limited in its application to the details of the particular arrangement shown here since the technology described is capable of other embodiments. Also, the terminology used herein is for the purpose of description and not of limitation.

[0035] In various exemplary embodiments, the technology described herein provides a system and associated methods for a water-based liquid quench, of variable length and temperature, for use after austenitizing a plain carbon or alloyed steel strand product from above the A3, eutectoid, or Acm temperature to below the A1 temperature after which the strand product enters an air fluidized sand bed.

[0036] Kirchhoff's Law states: dH=dHt+(integral) (dCp)dT. The first term is the heat of transformation of austenite into the final desired microstructure. The second term relates to the specific heat of the material and is the amount of thermal energy that must be removed from the product at the austenitizing temperature to reach the desired soaking temperature. It is not unusual for the second term to exceed the magnitude of first term by an order of magnitude. In the technology described herein the second term relates to the quench, and the first term relates to the fluidized bed. If an air fluidized sand bed without a liquid quenchant is use to remove heat related to the second term, the heat transfer rate is generally too slow to produce a suitable microstructure like fine pearlite, pure bainite, or pure martensite when realistic manufacturing speeds are employed. Further, common air fluidized sand beds have a fixed quenching length that limits the type of steel, speeds, and diameter of products that can be heat treated simultaneously.

[0037] The technology described herein provides a quench of variable length and temperature that can be used in combination to reach the desired temperature before entering the air fluidized sand bed, removing most or all of the heat related to the second term. In this case the fluidized bed is used only to absorb heat related to the first term (heat of transformation), or in the case of tempering martensite, to raise the steel to the appropriate tempering temperature. Further, the quench can be designed to process wires in "banks" where a bank of material is defined as adjacent wires that are moving at approximately the same speed, have approximately the same diameter and are approximately the same chemistry. For example, if 60 strands of wire are being heat treated simultaneously in the same austenitizing furnace the wires can be broken into several banks of wires e.g. six banks of ten wires. Each bank of material can be processed through a quench each of which has a different quenching length, quenching temperature and quenching agitation before entering the air fluidized sand bed. In this example six wire diameters, chemistries and speeds can be used all reaching the desired temperature after quenching and all resulting in the desired microstructure. Since the quenching length and temperature is not fixed (like in a conventional air fluidized sand bed) an infinitely larger range of diameters, speeds and chemistries of wire can be produced simultaneously compared to a conventional air fluidized sand bed.

[0038] A water based liquid quench is disclosed. The liquid quench is constructed of variable length and temperature. The liquid quench is adapted for use after austenitizing a plain carbon or alloyed steel strand product from above the A3, eutectoid or Acm temperature to below the A1 temperature after which the strand product enters an air fluidized sand bed. In use, the liquid quench can provide a quench to a metal strand product in various scenarios.

[0039] In a first case the strand product is quenched below the martensite finish temperature, completely transforming the strand product to martensite. In this first case the air fluidized sand bed is used to temper the martensite.

[0040] In a second case the strand product is quenched to some temperature above the appropriate TTT (Time, Temperature, Transformation) curve "nose" resulting in a microstructure of unstable austenite and possibly some pearlite. In this second case the air fluidized sand bed is used hold the strand product at some temperature near or above the "nose" of the TTT curve resulting in a pearlitic microstructure.

[0041] In a third case the strand product is quenched to some temperature below the appropriate TTT curve "nose" resulting in a microstructure of unstable austenite and possibly some pearlite or bainite. In this third case the air fluidized sand bed is used to hold the strand product at some temperature near or below the "nose" of the TTT curve but above the martensite start temperature resulting in a bainitic microstructure.

[0042] In all cases the water-based quenchant is controlled to either eliminate film boiling when a martensitic microstructure is desired or to promote film boiling on the surface of the hot work-piece when a pearlitic or bainitic microstructure is desired to prevent formation of unwanted microconstituents or microstructures on the material's surface. The quenchant may contain small amounts of water soluble chemicals to promote or avoid film boiling. In all cases the temperature of the water based quenchant is maintained at an appropriate temperature to produce the desired final microstructure.

[0043] Referring now to the Figures, a liquid quench 14 is shown. Liquid quenching is utilized, for example, to remove heat related to austenitization and transformation to martensite. The liquid quench apparatus 14 includes a chamber 30 to hold a liquid for placement under a drawn metal stand product 18. The chamber 30 can be defined as an outer chamber 30 to catch overflow 36 of the liquid quenchant and an inner chamber 28 to hold the liquid quenchant 24. The inner chamber 28 is defined by a length of a predetermined, adjustable value selected to create a desired temperature upon the drawn metal stand product 18 in a predetermined amount of time. In at least one embodiment, the chambers 28, 30 are stainless steel.

[0044] The liquid quench apparatus 14 includes a liquid quenchant 24 disposed within the inner chamber 28 to rise up and with which to quench the drawn metal strand product 18. The liquid quench apparatus 14 includes a means to raise the liquid quenchant 24 in the inner chamber 28 to above a height of the drawn metal strand product 18 above the chamber to rapidly cool the drawn metal strand product 18 to the desired temperature in the predetermined amount of time within the adjusted predetermined chamber length.

[0045] In at least one embodiment, the means to raise the liquid quenchant 24 above a height of the drawn metal strand product 18 is a lifting pump 20. As depicted in the Figures, pump 20, in direction 22, provides a liquid flow to the inner chamber 28 to lift the liquid quenchant 24 above the drawn metal strand product 18 as shown in direction arrow 26. The lifted liquid 34 is shown raised and covering and overflowing the drawn metal strand product 18 as it quenches. In use, the pump 22 is sufficient to circulate the liquid quenchant 24 from the overflow tank into the quenching tank with sufficient flow and pressure to raise the liquid above the wire height.

[0046] The liquid quench apparatus 14 includes a means to adjust the temperature of the liquid quenchant 24 to the desired temperature upon the drawn metal stand product 18. In at least one embodiment, a heat exchanger is utilized with pump 20 through which the liquid quenchant 24 is passed. By way of example, the heat exchanger is used to lower the temperature of the liquid quenchant 24. In at least one embodiment, an electrical resistance heater is utilized to adjust a temperature of the liquid quenchant 24. By way of example, the temperature of the liquid quenchant 24 is raised by the electrical resistance heater.

[0047] The liquid quench apparatus 14 includes at least one adjustable partition 32 to the inner chamber 28 with which to adjust the length of the inner chamber 28 to the predetermined, adjustable value selected to create a desired temperature upon the drawn metal stand product 18. As depicted the adjustable partition 32 is moved as shown by arrow 38 to increase or decrease the inner chamber length.

[0048] The liquid quench apparatus 14 can be divided to include multiple cells or sub chamber through which metal strand product 18 is drawn. As depicted divider 40 creates to sub-chambers to accommodate a plurality of banks of product 18, each bank having at least one drawn stand metal product 18, wherein each section is independently filled with the liquid quenchant 24. The length of each chamber section can vary.

[0049] The liquid quench apparatus 14 can include a means to agitate the liquid quenchant 24 to change a rate at which heat is removed from the drawn metal strand product 18. By way of example, in one embodiment, the means to agitate the liquid quenchant 24 to change the rate at which heat is removed from the drawn metal strand product 18 is a gas introduced into the liquid quenchant 24 to increase the agitation.

[0050] The liquid quench apparatus 14 can include one or more water-based chemical additives to add to the liquid quenchant 24 to modify a rate of heat extraction from the drawn metal strand product 18.

[0051] The liquid quench apparatus 14 can include, for pearlitic and bainitic microstructures, a series of baffle plates above the quenching pump inlet to the quenching tank so that the liquid is non-turbulent or relatively still as the wire passes through the liquid. This configuration promotes stable film boiling. Additionally, or alternatively, the liquid quench apparatus 14 can include, for martensitic microstructures, a system to agitate the quenching bath like a liquid lifting impeller in the quenching tank when strand product is passed through the quenchant. This configuration helps eliminate stable film boiling.

[0052] In use, the liquid quench apparatus 14 provides a quench to a drawn metal strand product 18 exiting an austenitizing furnace 12. The austenitizing furnace 12 heats the metal strand product 18 to above an A3, eutectoid, or Acm temperature. By way of example, the austenitizing furnace 12 is a direct fired gas furnace through which all strand product 18 passes, and wherein the strand product 18 reaches a temperature between 870 C-1020 C.

[0053] In at least one embodiment, subsequent to the liquid quench apparatus 14, an air fluidized sand bed 16 is utilized, for example, to remove the heat of transformation from austenite to pearlite or bainite. Additionally, the air fluidized sand bed 16 can be utilized to temper martensite. The air fluidized sand bed 16 is of an appropriate length to hold the strand product 18 at temperature for 4-10 seconds. The air fluidized sand bed 16 includes a method to control the amount (pressure and volume) of fluidization air and the sand temperature.

[0054] In use the liquid quench 14 is placed between an austenitizing furnace 12 and an air fluidized sand bed 16. To facilitate proper movement of the drawn metal strand product 18, series of rollers can be utilized. In at least one embodiment, a first set of rollers is utilized to divert the drawn metal strand product to the inner chamber 28 for quench by the liquid quenchant 24. In at least one embodiment, a second set of rollers is utilized to redirect the drawn metal strand product 18 from the inner chamber 28 after quench by the liquid quenchant 24.

[0055] When rollers are used to change the wire path 18, a method to change the length of the quenching device is provided by moving the rollers parallel to the wire direction. Alternatively, a set of cells parallel to the wire direction, each of which can be filled independently to increase or decrease the quenching length, are utilized. When rollers are not used, a method to change the length of the quenching device is provided. By way of example, a partition movable parallel to the wire direction is utilized.

[0056] In summary the quenching device can have a means to control the temperature of the liquid, the liquid quenchant can contain one or more water based chemicals to change the ability to extract heat from a strand product, the quenching device can be divided into banks to lower the temperature of adjacent wires, the quenching device can have a method of varying the quenching length, the quenching device can have a method of agitating the quenchant to change the rate at which heat is removed from the product, the quenching device can have a method to introduce a gas to increase the agitation of the quenchant and change the rate at which heat is removed from the product

[0057] The technology described herein provides a method for the treatment of a metal strand product utilizing a liquid quench. The method includes one or more of the followings steps, and as one of ordinary skill in the art will appreciate, upon reading this disclosure, the order and selection of the various method steps can vary based upon specific applications: [0058] utilizing a liquid quench apparatus having: a chamber to hold a liquid for placement under a drawn metal stand product, the chamber defined by a length of a predetermined, adjustable value selected to create a desired temperature upon the drawn metal stand product in a predetermined amount of time; a liquid quenchant disposed within the chamber to raise up and with which to quench the drawn metal strand product; a means to raise the liquid quenchant in the chamber to above a height of the drawn metal strand product above the chamber to rapidly cool the drawn metal strand product to the desired temperature in the predetermined amount of time within the adjusted predetermined chamber length; and a means to adjust the temperature of the liquid quenchant to the desired temperature upon the drawn metal stand product; [0059] drawing the metal strand product in a path at least partially defined over the chamber; [0060] quenching the metal strand product with the liquid quenchant; [0061] utilizing a lift pump; [0062] raising the liquid quenchant in the chamber to above the height of the metal strand product; [0063] overflowing the liquid quenchant back into the chamber; [0064] utilizing an electrical resistance heater; [0065] adjusting, thereby, the temperature of the liquid quenchant to the desired temperature upon the drawn metal stand product; [0066] utilizing a heat exchanger; [0067] adjusting, thereby, the temperature of the liquid quenchant to the desired temperature upon the drawn metal stand product; [0068] utilizing at least one divider; [0069] dividing the chamber into a plurality of sections to accommodate a plurality of banks of product, each bank having at least one drawn stand metal product; [0070] filling, independently, each section with the liquid quenchant; [0071] utilizing at least one adjustable partition; and [0072] adjusting the length of the chamber to the predetermined, adjustable value selected, thereby creating the desired temperature upon the drawn metal stand product.

[0073] Although this technology has been illustrated and described herein with reference to preferred embodiments and specific examples thereof, it will be readily apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art that other embodiments and examples can perform similar functions and/or achieve like results. All such equivalent embodiments and examples are within the spirit and scope of the disclosed technology and are intended to be covered by the following claims.

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