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Industrial Manufacturing

For industrial manufacturers faced with increased competitiveness and shrinking margins, cost savings initiatives are becoming increasingly important. Reducing tooling expenses is best approached by increasing tooling life for existing wear applications. One of the best ways to reduce tooling expenses is through cryogenic processing, which offers typically 300% longer life for around 20% cost of the item.

Cryogenic processing is an extension of heat treatment, where metals are heated to high temperatures and then quenched in order to obtain more favorable properties. While heat treatment of metals has occurred for thousands of years, 300 Below was the first company to develop a computer controlled process that utilizes extreme cold temperatures to extend the benefits of a quench. Using liquid nitrogen, we release liquid above its boiling point in a gaseous state in order to rearrange the molecular structure of metal, without risking thermal shock from having liquid come into contact with parts.
The six primary benefits of cryogenic processing for industrial manufacturing include:

  1. Stress Relief and Stabilization
  2. Abrasive Wear Resistance
  3. Enhanced Machinability
  4. Cycle Fatigue Enhancement
  5. Corrosion Inhibition
  6. Heat Transmissivity

The manufacturing industry has been exploring the practical applications and benefits of the cryogenic temperatures for the last couple of decades.

Why Is Cryogenic Processing Used in the Manufacturing Industry?

Both thermal heat treatments and cryogenic processing for metals utilize three-phase temperature treatment procedures. First, metal is elevated to a specific temperature. Second, the metal is held at the specified temperature for a limited period of time. Third, the final step is returning the metal to room temperature using similarly controlled conditions. As such, thermal and cryogenic temperature treatments work in a similar manner due to triple temperature cycling. However, both processes alter metals in totally different ways. This difference is a big deal in the manufacturing industry.

High temperature heat treatments do not deal with imperfections of the metal structure, nor do they aid enhancements to material stabilization and stress relief. When metals are heated up to +2,000˚F, and rapidly quenched down to room temperature using liquids like water or oil, these quenchants are typically close to room temperature, and the heat-affected areas of the heated material eventually cool down in a way that behaves like a crease in a piece of paper. It’s only a matter of time before a tear starts and spreads along the heat-affected zone. This is call stress crack propagation.

What is a Difference Between Heat and Cryogenic Temperature Treatments?

The ultimate goal of any temperature treatment is to achieve the full material transformation. Even the smallest percentages here can play a critical role. For instance, the heat treatment can give you up to 85% martensite. This looks like an impressive number. Now, the cryogenic processing comes into the game. Your first thought is that the material’s temperature goes from the room temperature down to the -300˚F and back. The truth is that the cryogenic process is a bit more sophisticated. First, you need to increase the temperature to let’s say 300˚F before you go down to the -300˚F. Then, before you go back to the room temperature, you have to reach the initial temperature of 300˚F one more time.

You have more than one curve that results in the more stable, durable, and more homogeneous material. Now, back to our example. You get the 95% martensite thanks to the cryogenic processing. When you compare it to the heat treatment result of the 85%, you may think that in both cases you are far away from the ideal 99% transformation. However, there’s a catch. If you have two sets of materials, and one has achieved an 85% transformation and the other has hit the 95% transformation, rest assured that the second one will outmatch the first one in terms of longevity and stability by 100%. The material that doesn’t let you down in your industrial manufacturing process is 100% more effective. That’s a difference between heat and cryogenic temperature treatments plain and simple.

Where Can I Use Cryogenic Processing in Industrial Manufacturing?

  1. Pumps
  2. Tooling
  3. Knife Making
  4. Mold Making
  5. Fire Suppression

These industrial manufacturing fields have yielded outstanding results in response to 300 Below’s cryogenic processing services, as they are particularly effective when treated in our cryogenic process.

High temperature heat treatments do not deal with imperfections of the metal structure, nor do they aid enhancements to material stabilization and stress relief. When metals are heated up to +2,000˚F, and rapidly quenched down to room temperature using liquids like water or oil, these quenchants are typically close to room temperature, and the heat-affected areas of the heated material eventually cool down in a way that behaves like a crease in a piece of paper. It’s only a matter of time before a tear starts and spreads along the heat-affected zone. This is call stress crack propagation.