Today's heat treatment software can predict distortion, residual stress, hardness, and metallurgical phase percentages during hardening of both carburized parts and through-hardened steel parts as well as assess the effect of the quenching method.
For critical engineering applications, heat treatment of steel components is often used to produce the combination of hardness, strength, toughness, and ductility that produces high performance capability. However, accompanying these heat treatment benefits is the undesirable side effect of distortion. Control of residual stress is a growing issue as the operating stress in critical parts continues to increase, making improvement in properties such as fatigue strength important. The achievement of desirable surface compressive stresses in the hardened and dimensionally correct part is a goal of all heat treaters. Past practices used by heat treaters and designers in determining the proper process routing have included experience-based rules, statistical models, and costly shop trials. By combining mechanics, thermal analysis, and phase transformation behavior with the powerful numerical methods of finite element analysis, new software-based tools have emerged for heat treat simulation.