Category Archive: Services

Brazing Services 101 — Function, Types, & Benefits

In the manufacturing sector, there are many methods of joining materials together. One of the most commonly used is brazing, which utilizes molten filler material to join metal or ceramic pieces. Below, we provide an overview of this process, outlining what it entails, the various types available, and the key benefits it offers, while ensuring that S.M. Engineering is your go-to for brazing services

What Is Brazing?

Brazing is a joining process that uses filler material to form a solid joint between metal or ceramic components. The filler material has a high melting point that is lower than the melting point of the workpiece materials, ensuring that it will melt while the workpieces do not. Once the filler material is melted, it spreads into the joint via capillary action. It is then allowed to cool, causing it to solidify and join the workpieces.

Types of Brazing Services

There are many brazing services and methods, each of which employs unique techniques and technologies that make it suitable for different joining applications. Some of the most commonly used brazing methods are:

Vacuum Brazing

Vacuum brazing joins parts in a high-temperature vacuum environment (between 600 and 2400° F in temperature and 105 torr or greater in pressure). The vacuum serves as the flux or cleaning agent for the parts, removing oxides and facilitating the formation of the joint.

Partial Pressure Brazing

Partial pressure brazing is highly similar to vacuum brazing. However, it occurs at lower vacuum pressures (103 torr). The process involves introducing a full vacuum on the parts and furnace and then introducing a gas to reduce the pressure within the vacuum.

Hydrogen Brazing

Hydrogen brazing is performed in a high-temperature, hydrogen-rich environment. It is generally used to join ceramics, oxygen-free copper, stainless steel, and steel. The filler material is typically a combination of copper, nickel, and precious metals (e.g., gold or silver). Since the hydrogen serves as a cleaning agent that removes oxides, the process normally produces bright and shiny joints.

Torch Brazing

Torch brazing—also referred to as silver soldering—uses localized heating to create joints. The joint areas are first fluxed, and then the filler material (typically containing tin or zinc) is applied.

Induction Brazing

Similar to silver soldering, induction blazing only heats the portions of the workpieces that will be joined. First, the joint surfaces are heated, and then the filler material is applied.

Benefits of Brazing 

There are many benefits to using brazing over other joining methods. For example:

  • It allows dissimilar base materials to be joined.
  • It produces clean, strong, lightweight, and durable assemblies.
  • It accommodates a range of joint designs without needing special fixtures or tooling.
  • It eliminates the need for post-processing finishing and heat treatment.
  • It carries a lower risk of thermal distortion and residual stresses than welding.
  • It requires less power input and heat than welding.

Partner With S.M. Engineering & Heat Treating for Brazing Services

Brazing plays a key role in the assembly of many parts and products. Achieving quality joints in these components necessitates the use of quality equipment. Otherwise, the equipment may experience temperature fluctuations and inconsistencies that can negatively affect joint formation. In the case of vacuum brazing and hydrogen brazing, this refers to brazing ovens and furnaces.

Want brazing services you can count on? S.M. Engineering & Heat Treating has got you covered. We specialize in the design, manufacture, and service of furnaces and ovens for various industrial heat treating needs. Our experts can help you find the equipment solution that works for you. To learn more about our brazing oven capabilities and how they can benefit your operations, contact us today.


Tooling and Precipitation Hardening for Steel | Firearm Industry

The firearm industry relies on tooling and precipitation hardening to deliver steel with enhanced properties such as hardness, strength, and resistance to high temperatures. Shifting barrels and other malfunctions are unacceptable, so heat treatment is a necessity to provide accurate and long-lasting firearm parts. Here, we will discuss how tooling and precipitation hardening work and the advantages it provides to the firearm industry.

What Is Tool Steel?

Tool steel is a carbon alloy steel that is preferable for tool manufacturing applications. The properties that make it ideal for tool manufacturing include its wear resistance, abrasion resistance, shape retention at high temperatures, and hardness. Manufacturers often heat treat tool steel to increase its hardness. Tool steel typically contains various combinations of tungsten, molybdenum, vanadium, and chromium. It may also contain nickel or cobalt for added temperature resistance.

Tool steel comes in various grades, including:

  • Air Hardening. This type of tool steel is all-purpose and very versatile. It has high toughness, wear resistance, and good machinability. It is best known for its minimal distortion under heat treatment due to its increased chromium content.
  • D Type. This tool steel contains high carbon and chromium contents. It is known for its air-hardening characteristics and abrasion resistance.
  • Oil Hardening. This general-purpose tool steel features good toughness and resistance to abrasion.
  • Shock Resisting Type. This grade delivers shock resistance at a range of extreme temperatures. It has lower abrasion resistance, but its low carbon content offers toughness and impact resistance.

What Is Precipitation Hardening?

Precipitation hardening is a treatment that applies heat to various alloys to improve their strength. Heat causes solid impurities or precipitates to form on the steel’s surface, reducing dislocation movement and hardening the steel to increase its durability.

Firearm manufacturers can observe the following benefits from precipitation hardening:

  • Improved yield and tensile strength
  • Decreased flexibility
  • Enhanced machinability
  • Increased durability and overall strength

Barrels, pistol safeties, receivers, bolts, and other firearm parts benefit from the improved corrosion and heat resistance that precipitation hardening delivers.

The Precipitation Hardening Process

Precipitation hardening is a three-phase process. Solution treatment is the initial phase, which involves dissolving the precipitates and decreasing segregation in the alloy. As the material soaks, the precise application of heat allows it to reach its solvus temperature and create a uniform solid solution. The goal is to remove precipitates and prepare the material for the quenching phase.

Quenching is the next phase of the precipitation hardening process, which involves rapidly cooling the alloy. Quick cooling allows the material to form a supersaturated solid solution with increased copper elements. The rapidity of quenching does not permit diffusion of nucleation sites or the formation of precipitates on the alloy.

The final step of the process is aging. During this phase, the material is heated again but below its solvus point. Heating to this point causes atoms to only diffuse at a small distance, creating a layer of finely dispersed precipitate that strengthens the alloy by decreasing dislocation movement. Aging forms a lattice structure within the material to significantly improve the material’s strength.

S.M. Engineering and Heat Treating for Tooling and Precipitation Hardening Firearms

Tooling and precipitation hardening deliver various benefits for the firearm industry, such as increased durability, reduced flexibility, and enhanced strength. These properties are crucial in ensuing long-lasting and accurate firearm products.

At S.M. Engineering & Heat Treating, we have over 60 years of experience serving various industries with heat treating solutions. We are ISO 9001 certified and provide a wide range of furnace and oven heat treating services. For more information about our tooling and precipitation hardening capabilities, contact us or request a quote today.

Heat Treating Services for Medical Applications

Heat treating is a valuable technique that can be used in various parts of the manufacturing process to improve the native characteristics of a metal component. By heating a metal or alloy to a specific temperature and allowing it to cool, manufacturers can impart additional properties, such as resistance to wear and tear. There are many different types of heat treating, including hardening, annealing, case hardening, normalizing, and tempering. Each of these processes results in various desirable properties that make heat treatments critical for a wide range of industries, including the medical industry.

Importance of Heat Treatment for the Medical Industry

Medical device heat treating is a critical process for equipment used in applications requiring biocompatibility, high mechanical strength, and long-term corrosion resistance. Heat treating helps establish the required fit, form, and function for a medical device while ensuring conformance to the medical industry’s strict standards for reliability. Metals including titanium, cobalt-chromium, stainless steel, and other alloys are commonly used for medical manufacturing. Cobalt chromium, which is commonly used for medical implants, requires heat treatment to strengthen the device and ensure it lasts a lifetime.

Stainless steel is another popular metal in the medical field that offers many advantages over other choices. It provides enhanced corrosion resistance, ductility, and is strong enough to withstand near-constant cleaning and sterilization. It is critical to choose a manufacturer that understands how to impart and safeguard these key mechanical properties. A mistake can lead to a defective tool that can negatively impact the results of a procedure.

Heat treating is critical for various medical devices such as implants, surgical tools, and more, to ensure optimal mechanical properties.

Common Medical Applications That Undergo Heat Treatment

Heat treating is a vital and necessary process for devices used within the medical industry, such as medical implants, dental tools and appliances, and surgical tools. Medical device heat treating results in aesthetically pleasing tools and devices with minimal distortion and precise final mechanical properties. Applications include:

  • Battery contacts
  • Bone saws
  • Bone screws
  • Capacitor cans
  • Cases
  • Clamps
  • Clips
  • Hip implants
  • Knee joints
  • Shields
  • Sidelocks
  • Tip inserts
  • Modular taps
  • Orthodontic cutters

Why Partner With SM Engineering?

SM Engineering has been a trusted provider of certified custom heat treating services for 50 years. We are a leading innovator in heat treatment, ensuring the highest levels of quality with superior artistry and customer satisfaction. Our extensive experience in annealing, hardening, and quenching allows us to heat treat many types of metals and plastics depending upon customer requirements. From implants to dental tools to surgical devices, SM Engineering provides the heat treating solution that delivers optimal results.

Choose Innovation, Experience, and Industry Expertise

SM Engineering has an innovative vision, decades of experience, and deep industry expertise. Our engineers understand how chemical composition and thermal processing affect medical products’ physical and mechanical properties. We guarantee our work, providing charts and certification documents as part of our quality assurance process for customers in many industries.

SM Engineering’s verifications and certifications include:

  • ISO 9001 Certified
  • Certified Calibration Services
  • Johnson & Johnson Validated
  • Zimmer Validated
  • Deputy Validated
  • Aerospace Heat Treating Capabilities

Our team of experts is here to inform and advise on the optimal processes to ensure your products achieve the results you require. Contact us today to learn more out about heat treating services for the medical industry, or request a quote to start your order.