This blog series is designed to help you troubleshoot your heat-treatment problem. It will show you how to be effective, efficient and logical in your troubleshooting and help you determine if the problem is process, material, design or control.

There are no hard-and-fast rules when it comes to troubleshooting the problem – only logical and progressive thinking. Remember, there are no bad ideas until they are proven to be bad ideas. Try to develop a thought process that, although it may take you outside the box, will help you be more effective in your troubleshooting.

“We have a problem” is an often-heard cry. This can come from the heat treater with his process or from the customer to the heat treater. How do we start to evaluate the problem and its root cause?

One of the most common problems in a heat-treat shop is that of distortion. Although there is potential to create distortion conditions in the steel, not all distortion is a result of heat treatment.

Any time a piece of steel is worked, machined, bent, twisted, rolled, milled, turned or ground, stress is being induced into the steel surface. The heat treater has enough to worry about with the phase changes that are about to take place.

Figure 1 demonstrates some of the factors that will contribute to distortion. The illustration is by no means complete. However, it indicates potential contribution factors to the problem of distortion.