It is a great pity that the subject of heat treatment is always considered to be the “Cinderella” of the engineering disciplines, when it is the correctness of the heat-treatment process selection and the application of the same that will literally “make or break” the product being heat treated.
Both the Metal Treating Institute (MTI) and ASM are setting the pace for heat-treatment training by offering their courses both online and on site. Our industry is at a point in its long history that behooves it to become more knowledgeable about the processes and the metallurgy involved. There are many new process technologies emerging at this time, particularly in the diffusion techniques. There are processes for the diffusion of either chromium or aluminum (or both together) for low-temperature case-hardening techniques. This will enable a carburizing steel, such as AISI 8620, to be both carburized (if required) or simply to be surface treated to give a formed case of aluminum and chromium, which can then be nitrided. This will produce an extremely high wear surface hardness at low temperature with only growth to worry about rather than distortion from phase changes.
These are but some of the new process techniques that are emerging in today’s modern metallurgical-processing technology world. There are obviously the academic institutions and colleges that will cater to both metallurgy and materials science. They cater also to the potential graduate who wishes to pursue an academic career and to work in a metallurgical laboratory environment.
This academic training does not address the heat-treatment associate who works on the shop floor and who is the person that will make the part work (metallurgically) in its operating environment.
This leaves only external sources of education to the associate, which are MTI and ASM. The heat-treatment training at these institutions will address only the theory of metallurgy and heat treatment. They will not address practical “hands-on” heat treatment and study subjects such as annealing, normalizing, hardening (austenitizing), carburizing, carbonitriding, nitriding, ferritic nitrocarburizing (FNC), induction heat treatment, tool steel heat treatment, alloy steel heat treatment, quenching, atmosphere heat treatment, vacuum heat treatment, hardness testing, sample preparation, and evaluation of the metallurgy and its results.
These are just some of the subjects that could be taught, which are of extreme value to both the heat-treatment associate and the employer of the associate.
I have a dream of an institution that can be brought together for the educational benefit of all heat treaters and shop owners alike, captive heat treaters and commercial heat treaters.
In addition, the field of heat treatment needs authoritative recognition by industry to raise the level of consciousness of the value of heat-treatment processing. This can at least “raise the bar” for the heat treater in terms of at least being considered a journeyman.