Easy To Use Patents Search & Patent Lawyer Directory

At Patents you can conduct a Patent Search, File a Patent Application, find a Patent Attorney, or search available technology through our Patent Exchange. Patents are available using simple keyword or date criteria. If you are looking to hire a patent attorney, you've come to the right place. Protect your idea and hire a patent lawyer.


Search All Patents:



  This Patent May Be For Sale or Lease. Contact Us

  Is This Your Patent? Claim This Patent Now.



Register or Login To Download This Patent As A PDF




United States Patent Application 20180010223
Kind Code A1
Newton; Gregory January 11, 2018

CONCURRENT, ADJACENT HEAT TREATMENT AND COOLING IN METAL ANNEALING

Abstract

The present invention is a system of concurrent, adjacent heat treatment and vigorous cooling in section-annealing of metal workpieces. The invention process is especially advantageous in induction heating for annealing of one section of a workpiece while maintaining relatively non-annealed properties in an adjacent section.


Inventors: Newton; Gregory; (City of Industry, CA)
Applicant:
Name City State Country Type

Newton; Gregory

City of Industry

CA

US
Family ID: 1000002820526
Appl. No.: 15/644948
Filed: July 10, 2017


Related U.S. Patent Documents

Application NumberFiling DatePatent Number
62360718Jul 11, 2016

Current U.S. Class: 1/1
Current CPC Class: C22F 1/04 20130101; C21D 2221/00 20130101; C21D 1/26 20130101; C21D 1/42 20130101
International Class: C22F 1/04 20060101 C22F001/04; C21D 1/26 20060101 C21D001/26; C21D 1/42 20060101 C21D001/42

Claims



1. A heating and cooling process for a metal workpiece of substantially the same metal composition comprising simultaneously heating an upper heat treating zone to substantially above ambient temperature and cooling a lower cooling zone to substantially below ambient temperature so that a crystal structure of the metal of the upper heat treating zone is modified and a crystal structure of the lower cooling zone is less modified.

2. The process of claim 1 wherein a transition zone is formed between the upper heat treating zone and the lower cooling zone.

3. The process of claim 2 wherein the transition zone is relatively narrow compared to a height of the upper heat treating zone.

4. The process of claim 2 wherein the transition zone is relatively narrow compared to a height of the lower cooling zone.

5. The process of claim 1 wherein the transition zone is less than six inches of the workpiece.

6. The process of claim 5 wherein the transition zone is less than four inches of the workpiece.

7. The process of claim 6 wherein the transition zone is from one fourth inch to one inch of the workpiece.

8. The process of claim 1 wherein the metal workpiece comprises a metal or metals whose line slope of on a plot of thermal conductivity to temperature curve is equal to or less than that of pure aluminum.

9. The process of claim 8 wherein the metal workpiece comprises a metal or metals whose line slope of on a plot of thermal conductivity to temperature curve is equal to or greater than 0.004 watts/inch-degree F per degree F.

10. The process of claim 9 wherein the metal workpiece comprises aluminum or its alloys.

11. The process of claim 1 wherein the upper heat treating zone is heated to above 600 degrees F.

12. The process of claim 11 wherein the lower cooling zone is maintained at a temperature no higher than 400 degrees F.

13. The process of claim 1 wherein the upper heat treating zone is heated to above 800 degrees F.

14. The process of claim 13 wherein the lower cooling zone is maintained at a temperature no higher than 500 degrees F.

15. The process of claim 1 wherein after the workpiece is brought to ambient temperature so that the hardness of the lower cooling zone is thirty percent higher than that of the upper heat treating zone.

16. The process of claim 15 wherein the workpiece is brought to ambient temperature so that the hardness of the lower cooling zone is thirty percent to twenty-five percent higher than that of the upper heat treating zone.

17. The process of claim 15 wherein the workpiece is brought to ambient temperature so that the hardness of the lower cooling zone is twenty-five percent to fifteen percent higher than that of the upper heat treating zone.

18. The process of claim 17 wherein the workpiece is brought to ambient temperature so that the hardness of the lower cooling zone is fifteen percent to ten percent higher than that of the upper heat treating zone.

19. The process of claim wherein the workpiece comprises metals other than aluminum.

20. The process of claim 1 wherein after the upper heat treating zone is heated to over 600 degrees F. and the workpiece is brought to ambient temperature that the hardness of the lower cooling zone is thirty percent or less higher than that of the upper heat treating zone.
Description



[0001] The present application claims priority from provisional U.S. Patent Application Ser. No. 62/360,718 filed Jul. 11, 2016, the content of which is expressly incorporated herein by reference.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0002] The present invention is broadly directed to heat treatment of metals for annealing, and more particularly to a process for restricting annealing to a desired portion along a length of a metal workpiece.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0003] It is well known that annealing is, in general, a process of treating a metal workpiece by heating, maintaining a certain time at temperature(s), and cooling the workpiece to produce desired properties in the workpiece. Cooling should be done at a pre-determined cooling rate, so that the achieved, desired properties are not adversely affected. Annealing is an ancient process where a work piece is exposed to a temperature-time-atmosphere process steps in order to reach certain desired properties.

[0004] Work pieces created with imperfections in the crystal lattice and in which the material became harder e.g. by cold working, are often re-crystallisation annealed to be able to improve or continue the material deformation. By re-crystallisation annealing new undeformed (soft) crystals are originated. The process temperature depends on the material used and the deformation ratio can be performed on all metals and alloys.

[0005] Recrystallization is characterized by the gradual formation and appearance of a microscopically resolvable grain structure. The new structure is largely strain-free. There are few if any dislocations within the grains and no concentrations at the grain boundaries.

[0006] Standardized annealing is used to improve irregular, inhomogeneous and coarse grained structures in, for example, castings, forgings or rolled sheet. This improves the mechanical properties of the material by obtaining a fine-grained structure with grains of roughly equal size and a round shape.

[0007] Solution annealing ensures that secretions in the material lattice present in the material are dissolved. This creates a homogeneous structure.

[0008] After solution annealing, secretion or precipitation hardening is often applied so that the material adjacent to the solution annealing is heated to a temperature where the material elements that are in solution lattice. This improves the mechanical properties.

[0009] Aluminum and aluminum alloys, wrought and cast, are generally annealed to promote softening. Annealing is generally carried out in the range 300-410 degrees C., depending on the alloy. Exemplary heating times at temperature vary from 0.5 to 3 hours, conditional on the size of the load and the alloy type. The solution treatment temperature for aluminum and aluminum alloys is critical to the success of the procedure. It is desirable that the solution heat treatment is carried out as close as possible to the liquidus temperature in order to obtain maximum solution of the constituents. Accurate furnace temperature and special temperature variation must be controlled to within a range of .+-.5.degree. C. for most alloys. Overheating must be avoided, i.e., initial eutectic melting temperatures must not be exceeded, in that early stages of overheating are not apparent but will result in a deterioration of mechanical properties of the workpiece.

[0010] FIG. 1, a graph of heat transfer coefficients versus temperature instantly indicates to those skilled in the art of annealing aluminum and aluminum alloys a critical limitation on the use of induction heating of a workpiece for annealing. While induction heating is well known and a desirable and inexpensive alternative to furnace heating of aluminum and aluminum alloys for annealing as described above, it is essentially of little use in the careful control of temperature required to prevent overheating and deterioration of mechanical properties as described above. It is seen in FIG. 1 that the desired temperature range for annealing of aluminum and aluminum alloys is strictly within the range of the steepest part of the curve for increases of heat transfer coefficients for each degree of temperature increase. As such, heating resulting from inductive fields generated in the aluminum and aluminum alloy workpiece races upwardly and is basically out of predictive control. Undesired full melting of aluminum and aluminum alloys is known when using inductive heating for annealing a workpiece.

[0011] As indicated, annealing processes in the prior art have limitations which are improved upon with the present invention

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0012] The present invention is a system of concurrent, adjacent heat treatment and vigorous cooling in section-annealing of metal workpieces. The invention process is especially advantageous in induction heating for annealing of one section of a workpiece while maintaining relatively non-annealed properties in an adjacent end.

[0013] The prior art describes many examples of furnace or induction heating of a moving section of a long metal workpiece, where portions emerging from the heating zone are cooled or rapidly quenched to obtain desired properties in the workpiece. However, the intent of such treatment is to obtain for the entire length of the workpiece essentially identical properties, such as hardness, grain structures and the like.

[0014] The present invention comprises a method for obtaining an annealed section immediately adjacent to a much less or non-annealed section on the same workpiece. A specific actual example of the operation of the invention process is described below and shows that the workpiece of the invention process required annealing of one end of the workpiece while retaining non-annealed properties at another end of the workpiece.

[0015] The cooling required in one section of the metal workpiece during the invention process is not typical for quenching and cooling of prior art heat treating processes, as the cooling applied to the cooled section of the invention process is intended not for quenching or to achieve a desired property in the workpiece. In fact, the opposite is obtained, i.e., the properties of the cooled section of the invention process are essentially retained as they were before an induction heat treatment was applied to the heated section.

[0016] An unexpected benefit of the invention process has been, for at least aluminum and aluminum alloys, an extremely narrow transition zone between a fully annealed heated section and an essentially non-annealed cooled section. It appears that the vigorous cooling applied to the cooled section results in basically a thermal "dam" forming an interface of the heated section and the cooled section.

[0017] Various objects and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the following description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings wherein are set forth, by way of illustration and example, certain embodiments of this invention. The drawings submitted herewith constitute a part of this specification, include exemplary embodiments of the present invention, and illustrate various objects and features thereof.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0018] FIG. 1 is a graph of heat transfer coefficients versus temperature for aluminum and steel.

[0019] FIG. 2 is a generalized cross section of a metal workpiece, preferably aluminum, showing heat treated and cooled zones.

[0020] FIG. 3 is a top perspective view of an actual specific aluminum workpiece, showing application of the coils of an induction heating device for the heat treated zone and a container of dry ice (frozen carbon dioxide) simultaneously cooling a cooled zone.

[0021] FIG. 4 is a top view of the workpiece of FIG. 3.

[0022] FIG. 5 is a side cross section view of the workpiece of FIG. 3 side by side with the generalized workpiece of FIG. 2, showing corresponding sections for both.

[0023] FIGS. 6 and 7 are each a top view and side view of a vertical sections of cylindrical workpieces 10A and 10B, which are to that of FIGS. 4 and 5 respectively.

[0024] FIGS. 8 and 9 are each a top view and side view of a vertical sections of cylindrical workpieces 20A and 20B, which are to that of FIGS. 4 and 5 respectively.

[0025] FIG. 10 shows three views of an actual workpiece 10A as in FIG. 6, where a left item is a side view of a first top half cross section, a central item is a side view of a second top half cross section, and a right item is a side view.

[0026] FIG. 11 is a top view of the workpiece of the right item of FIG. 10, showing internal walls and temperature indicator substances after the invention heat and cooling treatment.

[0027] FIG. 12 shows a table of hardness measurements at spots A, B, C and D for the aluminum workpiece shown and treated according to the objects of the invention.

[0028] FIG. 13 shows hardness testing results for the workpieces shown in FIGS. 6-9 for sections of the workpieces 10A, 10B, 20A and 20B.

[0029] FIG. 14 shows a prior art graph of thermal conductivity versus temperature for aluminum and other metals, demonstrating the efficacy of the present invention.

[0030] FIG. 15 is a top perspective view of the invention process being performed, with induction heating elements heating a top portion of the workpiece and dry ice cooling a bottom portion of the workpiece.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[0031] The invention is now discussed with reference to the drawing figures and specific examples.

[0032] FIG. 2 is a generalized cross section of a metal workpiece 10, exemplary aluminum, showing heat treated zone 11, a cooling medium 14, a lower cooled zone 15, an upper cooled zone 16, and a transition zone 12, a relatively narrow band in workpiece 10. In transition zone 12, physical properties (such as hardness and related properties) of the workpiece transition far more rapidly than in zone 11 above and zone 13 below transition zone 12. In the invention process, heat transfer to an upper part of or all of zone 11 results in a significant change in the physical properties of at least an upper part of zone 11, resulting in rapid heating of zone 11. Heat transfer from zone 11 would rapidly take place into upper cooling zone 16, but for application of cooling medium 14 to a lower cooling zone 15 of cooling zone 13. Cooling medium 14 may be dry ice, cooled or liquid gases (such as nitrogen), glycol or similar cooling or chilling devices or (any or all chilling mediums and devices in combination) processes achieved by processes adapted to accomplish the objects of the invention. In the specific examples disclosed, roughly, crushed dry ice at or around minus 78 degrees C. was used as the cooling medium 14.

[0033] Transition zone 12 is the result of the application of the invention process, in that extreme cooling rates occur in zone 12 which prevent significant heat treatment of portions of workpiece 10 below zone 12, thereby providing for relaxation of stresses and weakening of aluminum in zone 11 by way of heat treatment and preservation of non-heat treated properties in zones 15 and 16 below transition zone 12.

[0034] FIG. 3 is a top perspective view of an actual specific cylindrical aluminum workpiece 20, showing application of the coils of an induction heating device 19 within and outside of the walls of the heat treated zone 26, which operation of the device 19 and simultaneous application of cooling medium 14a established a transition zone 27 and an upper cooling zone 28. A container of dry ice (frozen carbon dioxide) was provided as cooling medium 14a, which was contained in a cylindrical container 18, keeping the cooling medium 14a in contact with an outside surface only of lower cooling zone 29. A top edge 21 of cylindrical workpiece 20 is shown between internal and external coils of device 19.

[0035] FIG. 4 is a top view of the workpiece 20 of FIG. 3, showing an opening in a thickened base 23.

[0036] FIG. 5 is a side cross section view of the workpiece 20 of FIG. 3 side by side with the generalized workpiece 10 of FIG. 2, showing corresponding sections for both. Cylindrical side walls 22 extend to a thickened base 23, where a heat treating zone 26 is shown corresponding in arrow 11' to heat treating zone 11, a transition zone 27 is shown corresponding in arrow 12' to transition zone 12, an upper cooling zone 28 is shown corresponding in arrow 16' to upper cooling zone 16, and a lower cooling zone 29 is shown corresponding in arrow 15' to lower cooling zone 15. Cooling medium 30 (medium 14a in FIG. 3) corresponds to cooling medium 14.

[0037] FIGS. 6 and 7 are each a top view and side view of a vertical sections of cylindrical workpieces 10A and 10B, which are to that of FIGS. 4 and 5 respectively. In the side views, actual test values of hardness after heating and simultaneous cooling according to the invention are shown in three vertical rows of small circles, showing a reduced mechanical properties zone, corresponding to the heating zone 11 of FIG. 2, and a transition zone, corresponding to the transition zone 12 of FIG. 2.

[0038] FIGS. 8 and 9 are each a top view and side view of a vertical sections of cylindrical workpieces 20A and 20B, which are to that of FIGS. 4 and 5 respectively. In the side views, actual test values of hardness after heating and simultaneous cooling according to the invention are shown in three vertical rows of small circles, showing a reduced mechanical properties zone, corresponding to the heating zone 11 of FIG. 2, and a transition zone, corresponding to the transition zone 12 of FIG. 2.

[0039] FIG. 10 shows three views of an actual workpiece 10A as in FIG. 6, where a left item is a side view of a first top half cross section, a central item is a side view of a second top half cross section, and a right item is a side view. In the center item, hardness values are shown in a column, showing hardness measurements at those vertical levels of the workpiece, where a cooling zone section comprises hardness values of 80.5 and four values of 81 (in a cooling zone), 73 (in a transition zone), and 55 and 60 (in a heating zone). Temperatures of 750, 850 and 900 degrees are marked on the outside surface of the workpiece on the right item, indicating temperature indicating materials which reacted to melting.

[0040] FIG. 11 is a top view of the workpiece of the right item of FIG. 10, showing internal walls and temperature indicator substances after the invention heat and cooling treatment.

[0041] In the invention process with workpieces such as those in FIG. 3, induction coils are arranged with the workpiece on a turn table so that it can be rotated with reference to the induction coils. Three temperatures are been chosen to be measured with melting indicator materials for 750.degree., 800.degree. and 850.degree.. The base of the workpiece shall be placed in the center of a container 3'' tall and 10'' in diameter, with dry ice filling a space between the container and the outside surface of the workpiece.

[0042] Induction coils are activated and the workpiece is carefully examined so that, during rotation, a highest temperature in the heating zone is maintained well below a melting temperature for aluminum, but still sufficient high to achieve the objects of the invention.

[0043] FIG. 12 shows a table of hardness measurements at spots A, B, C and D for the aluminum workpiece shown and treated according to the objects of the invention.

[0044] The measurements are shown for Brinnel testing. It is instantly appreciated that a transition zone exists at the elevation of the spot B, which is dramatically narrowed and focused as a result of the heat transfer properties of aluminum.

[0045] FIG. 13 shows hardness testing results for the workpieces shown in FIGS. 6-9 for sections of the workpieces 10A, 10B, 20A and 20B.

[0046] FIG. 14 shows a prior art graph of thermal conductivity versus temperature for aluminum and other metals, demonstrating the efficacy of the present invention. The properties of aluminum at above 200 degrees F. clearly show the difficulty of heat treatment of aluminum, i.e., that each increment of temperature increase dramatically increases the rate at which aluminum will absorb heat, leading to inherent instability in heat treatment processes for that metal as compared with any other metal shown in FIG. 14 other than brass.

[0047] FIG. 15 is a top perspective view of the invention process being performed, with induction heating elements 50 and 51 heating a top portion of the workpiece 20 and dry ice 52 cooling a bottom portion of the workpiece 20, where.

[0048] The present invention provides a thermal "dam" at a relatively narrow region between heated and cooled sections of the heat treated piece, where the elevation location of the thermal "dam" is adjustable by way of relative heat transfers with the heated and cooled sections. For instance, if heat transfer to a heated section is increased while cooling to the cooled section is maintained at a constant rate, the narrow thermal "dam" zone will descend in a controlled manner.

[0049] The prior art does not teach that a narrow thermal "dam" zone may be achieved by heat treatment of a heated section of a metal workpiece while intensely cooling a cooled end of that workpiece, thereby preserving the non-heat treated cooled section and endowing the narrowly separated heated section with desired heat treatment properties.

[0050] It is significant that providing an intensely cooled section results in some protection of the heated zone from eutectic melting, as has been seen in some aluminum samples actually processed using the invention process, i.e., while substantial cooling of the heated section is blocked at the thermal "dam", the heated section loses sufficient heat overall so that even higher temperature treatments of the heated section do not result in harmful eutectic melting in the heated section. Further, said overall cooling to the heated section at lower temperatures applied to the heated section results, in some actual samples processed using the invention process, have caused a desired reduction in yield limit of samples from the heated section (as would be expected with full annealing) without full annealing of the heated section.

[0051] More specifically, in the invention process above, the transition zone is preferably less than 6 inches of the workpiece, more preferably four inches of the workpiece, and most preferably one fourth to one inch of the workpiece, where on either side of the workpiece the crystal structure of the cooled zone and heated zone are substantially the same. It is predicted that application of the present invention shall be effective the metal workpiece which comprises a metal or metals whose line slope of on a plot of thermal conductivity to temperature curve is equal to or greater than 0.004 watts/inch-degree F per degree F., similar to that of brass shown in FIG. 14.

[0052] The invention process comprises a method where the the upper heat treating zone is heated to above 600 degrees F. and the lower cooling zone is maintained at a temperature no higher than 400 degrees F. The invention process also comprises a method where the the upper heat treating zone is heated to above 800 degrees F. and the lower cooling zone is maintained at a temperature no higher than 500 degrees F.

[0053] The process of the invention comprises that after the upper heat treating zone is heated to over 600 degrees F. that workpiece is brought to ambient temperature so that the hardness of the lower cooling zone is thirty percent or less higher than that of the upper heat treating zone, preferably twenty five percent, fifteen percent or ten percent thereof.

[0054] The present invention is useful for providing lower yield strengths to the heated section (as may be needed if it is securely engaged with carbon fiber connection to other structures but the cooled section is desired to maintain original higher yield strengths of the metal workpiece because it is not so engaged to a carbon fiber connection.

[0055] As required, detailed embodiments of the present invention are disclosed herein; however, it is to be understood that the disclosed embodiments are merely exemplary of the invention, which may be embodied in various forms. Therefore, specific structural and functional details disclosed herein are not to be interpreted as limiting, but merely as a basis for the claims and as a representative basis for teaching one skilled in the art to variously employ the present invention in virtually any appropriately detailed structure.

* * * * *

File A Patent Application

  • Protect your idea -- Don't let someone else file first. Learn more.

  • 3 Easy Steps -- Complete Form, application Review, and File. See our process.

  • Attorney Review -- Have your application reviewed by a Patent Attorney. See what's included.