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Posted: 8/23/2009 1:11:33 PM EST
Can you heat treat Aluminum to harden it with mepp gas and oil (or water) like steel?
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Posted: 8/23/2009 1:15:17 PM EST
I don't believe so. Why do you want to harden it? There are plating methods that can increase wear resistance. And of course different alloys that are more durable
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Posted: 8/23/2009 1:15:49 PM EST
Short answer - No.

Aluminum does not behave like ferrous metals.

Heat treatment of aluminum is a complex subject.

See this for an overview.
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Posted: 8/23/2009 1:16:05 PM EST
No. Its not the same.
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Posted: 8/23/2009 1:16:15 PM EST
I'm pretty sure aluminum will just melt, not harden.
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Posted: 8/23/2009 1:17:42 PM EST
Nope, it doesn't react like steel, it takes a different process.

http://www.keytometals.com/Article7.htm

And that only works with the right alloys.
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Posted: 8/23/2009 1:20:39 PM EST
You can anodize aluminum, which is similar to case hardening it.
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Posted: 8/23/2009 1:20:55 PM EST
Thanks for the info and the links
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Posted: 8/23/2009 1:23:54 PM EST
Anodize & Hard coat anodize will make it harder similar to case hardening. There are also Teflon-like coating that will help with wear.
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Posted: 8/23/2009 1:33:46 PM EST
You don't want to introduce carbon to Al, especially via any attempts with oil or other petroleum distillates.
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Posted: 8/23/2009 1:46:28 PM EST
What they said, and in before Keith_J
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Posted: 8/23/2009 1:47:48 PM EST

Originally Posted By CarbineDad:
What they said, and in before Keith_J




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Posted: 8/23/2009 1:52:42 PM EST
Anodizing is at best still just a passivization process, it will not produce results anything like case hardening steel.

Parkerising or Bluing steel is more what Anodizing is.

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Posted: 8/23/2009 1:55:41 PM EST
[Last Edit: 8/23/2009 2:00:15 PM EST by azsavage]
How thick can the anodization layer be made with aluminum? I was just thinking - if you could make the layer thick enough and then have multiple layers that might have some interesting properties. Aluminum oxide is 9 on the hardness scale - just one step below diamonds. I wonder how a veneer of thousands of layers of aluminum (microns thick) and aluminum oxide would do for bullet resistance. The oxide is harder than ceramic (like used in ballistic plates) but the amuminum would provide strength.
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Posted: 8/23/2009 1:57:42 PM EST
[Last Edit: 8/23/2009 2:03:24 PM EST by Dave_A]

Originally Posted By flashbag:
Can you heat treat Aluminum to harden it with mepp gas and oil (or water) like steel?

AL can be heat treated...

The various tempers (T-numbers) are heat-treated AL (T stands for Thermal)....

For example, '0' metal is untreated (you can bend/shape it with your bare hands), T-6 is very hard (and brittle - pain in the ass to bend)...

At my old unit in Korea, we had an oven for heat-treating AL aircraft parts...

THAT SAID...

AL is not *easily* heat-treated with 'home' materials....

The whole 'gas torch and dunk in oil' thing is more likely than not to fail... AL is also flammable, esp in dust form....

It's not steel... Nowhere near as 'easy'.....
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Posted: 8/23/2009 1:59:58 PM EST
[Last Edit: 8/23/2009 2:01:40 PM EST by TimeTraveler]
Yes. Aluminum can be aged hardened at a given temperature in an "Auto Clave"(Vaccume). It's not anything like hardening steel but it can be hardened for strength. Many aircraft parts go through this proccess. I believe it is only for thinner parts. TT

Hah. Dave_A beat me to it.
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Posted: 8/23/2009 2:01:42 PM EST
[Last Edit: 8/23/2009 2:02:53 PM EST by Dave_A]

Originally Posted By TimeTraveler:
Yes. Aluminum can be aged hardened at a given temperature in an "Auto Clave"(Vaccume). It's not anything like hardening steel but it can be hardened for strength. Many aircraft parts go through this proccess. I believe it is only for thinner parts. TT

It's for thin, complex-shaped parts that cannot be made from the 'right' temper of aluminum alloy without cracking issues...

So, to prevent cracking, you make the part from 'O metal' (Annealed AL) and you then harden it to the right temper...
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Posted: 8/23/2009 2:01:48 PM EST
[Last Edit: 8/23/2009 2:02:02 PM EST by safe1]
Originally Posted By azsavage:
How thick can the anodization layer be made with aluminum? I was just thinking - if you could make the layer thick enough and then have multiple layers that might have some interesting properties. Aluminum oxide is 9 on the hardness scale - just one step below diamonds,.


We would spec it at .002 +/- .0005. We used it in three piece dies that formed graphite seals and graphite is pretty abrasive. Hardcoat held up very well.
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Posted: 8/23/2009 2:04:07 PM EST
The short version is something like Aerospace aluminum can be hardened. But for most aluminums available to the average joe , you will do nothing but make it porous or brittle.

BTW, whats up with all these guys screwing with exotic metals latelty on here?
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Posted: 8/23/2009 2:06:38 PM EST
[Last Edit: 8/23/2009 2:07:14 PM EST by Dave_A]
For those interested, here's a chart on the different ways of tempering AL:



Most of the aircraft parts I worked with used 'T3'... Some T6, but you hated that stuff if you had to bend it (it cracks very easily when bent).....
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Posted: 8/23/2009 2:09:55 PM EST

Originally Posted By Fireguy3:
The short version is something like Aerospace aluminum can be hardened. But for most aluminums available to the average joe , you will do nothing but make it porous or brittle.

BTW, whats up with all these guys screwing with exotic metals latelty on here?

Don't know, maybe some are dabbling with their own, personal version of 'Wil-E-Coyote's Acme Gun Works'... Maybe we have a few into experimental aviation...

Me? I was an airframe mechanic for Uncle Sam... Aluminum... Yeah, we had some of that...
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Posted: 8/23/2009 2:11:23 PM EST

Originally Posted By JCKnife:
I'm pretty sure aluminum will just melt, not harden.

Try 'oxidize'...

With the right amount of heat, it will oxidize rather violently...
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Posted: 8/23/2009 2:11:47 PM EST
[Last Edit: 8/23/2009 2:12:40 PM EST by TimeTraveler]
Originally Posted By safe1:
Originally Posted By azsavage:
How thick can the anodization layer be made with aluminum? I was just thinking - if you could make the layer thick enough and then have multiple layers that might have some interesting properties. Aluminum oxide is 9 on the hardness scale - just one step below diamonds,.


We would spec it at .002 +/- .0005. We used it in three piece dies that formed graphite seals and graphite is pretty abrasive. Hardcoat held up very well.


Hardcoat on AL. is the heaviest of the AL. Anodizing. Most anodizing on AL. is only a few tenths of a thousants. The Hardcoat is more. TT

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Posted: 8/23/2009 2:14:54 PM EST
[Last Edit: 8/23/2009 2:15:29 PM EST by Dave_A]

Originally Posted By azsavage:
How thick can the anodization layer be made with aluminum? I was just thinking - if you could make the layer thick enough and then have multiple layers that might have some interesting properties. Aluminum oxide is 9 on the hardness scale - just one step below diamonds. I wonder how a veneer of thousands of layers of aluminum (microns thick) and aluminum oxide would do for bullet resistance. The oxide is harder than ceramic (like used in ballistic plates) but the amuminum would provide strength.

AlOx -> Hard, but brittle as hell...

All 'pure' aluminum develops a layer of it naturally, which prevents further oxidation/corrosion. This is why aircraft aluminum alloys are usually 'Alclad' (plated with 'pure' non-alloyed aluminum, for corrosion resistance)...

Anodizing is more a plating process than a 'case hardening' process... So that's not going to really help much...

Basicly, unless you have the right (ridiculously expensive & power hungry) equipment, you need to acquire your AL in the right alloy & temper, and then make it into what you need it to be from there...
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Posted: 8/23/2009 2:19:04 PM EST

Originally Posted By JBowles:
Anodizing is at best still just a passivization process, it will not produce results anything like case hardening steel.

Parkerising or Bluing steel is more what Anodizing is.



Not hard anodizing.

Bluing simply alters the surface to help protect from rust.

The surface layer created by hard anodizing is harder than steel, and very durable.
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Posted: 8/23/2009 2:29:16 PM EST

Originally Posted By BT500:

The surface layer created by hard anodizing is harder than steel, and very durable.

Sure, but it's no Case hardening.
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Posted: 8/23/2009 2:35:55 PM EST
Anodize is primarily for sealing the surface of AL. to delay or prevent oxidation. TT
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Posted: 8/23/2009 2:39:52 PM EST

Originally Posted By BT500:

Originally Posted By JBowles:
Anodizing is at best still just a passivization process, it will not produce results anything like case hardening steel.

Parkerising or Bluing steel is more what Anodizing is.



Not hard anodizing.

Bluing simply alters the surface to help protect from rust.

The surface layer created by hard anodizing is harder than steel, and very durable.

However, it does not actually add metallurgical strength to the metal...

Any more than the black-oxide plating on a knife blade 'strengthens' the steel...

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Posted: 8/23/2009 2:47:25 PM EST
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