Thermal Treatment

Thermal treatments for steel change its properties to improve strength, relieve stress, enhance grain structure, improve ductility and provide other advantages. At Bekaert, our experts can perform thermal treatments like annealing, oil-tempering and induction hardening.

Our team has extensive knowledge regarding the thermal treatments we use for steel. This experience lets our representatives recommend the best process and services for your applications.

Thermal Treatment Services Bekaert Offers

Bekaert provides thermal treatment for steel products to alter material properties and make the steel more suitable for your application. Our thermal treatment services include annealing, hardening and tempering.


Annealing is a heat treatment that has various effects on steel's properties. At Bekaert, we work with quality equipment for annealing metal. We use hydrogen/nitrogen atmosphere batch annealing bell furnaces for annealing steel and a separate system to meet the higher temperature requirements of stainless steel annealing. We maintain a tight tolerance on temperature control in our furnaces, keeping variation to as little as 2 degrees Fahrenheit.

In general, the annealing process heats steel to an extreme temperature. The heat relaxes the material to make it more malleable and flexible for easier manipulation into a desired shape. The different kinds of annealing include:

  • Full: During this process, manufacturers heat steel to 30 degrees Celsius above their transformative temperature and allow the material to cool naturally. This method reduces internal stresses, improves machine workability and creates a fine-grained, microcrystalline structure.
  • Isothermal: While full annealing allows the steel to cool, isothermal annealing forcibly cools the material to its lower critical temperature, the degree to which the hold period begins. At that point, the steel grain becomes pearlite and cools slowly.
  • Spherical: This annealing process produces globular pearlite by holding the material near the critical temperature and then allowing the material to slowly cool. An even distribution of globular pearlite is created in the material that helps with cold-forming.
  • Recrystallization: This intermediate annealing heats steel until its grain becomes uniform. It neutralizes process hardening and residual stress so that multistage cold-working can happen without risk.

Our controlled atmospheric environment prevents oxidation and decarburization and ensures consistent results. The annealing process creates a softer metal that's easier to shape for your intended projects. Our annealed steel products have a bright surface finish that exceeds your specifications. Other advantages include relieved stress, increased ductility and enhanced grain structures.

During the process, we use an even heat distribution and tight temperature control. We choose the process type based on your specifications and preferred results and the metal's type and mass. Though Bekaert does not typically offer annealing as a stand-alone service, we will complete it as part of a comprehensive thermal treatment process.

Hardening and Tempering

Hardening and tempering is a two-step thermal process that strengthens steel for a range of applications. Our hardening and tempering services are valuable to specialty wire applications, such as flexible pipes, rake tines and piston rings. We also provide packaging needs based on project specifications, including:

  • Cut-to-length
  • Coils on reels
  • Coils on cardboard cores

Hardening is effectively the opposite of annealing — where annealing makes steel softer, hardening makes the metal stronger. The hardening thermal treatment makes the steel stronger and provides a uniform microstructure. We heat steel to a given transformation temperature and then quickly and uniformly quench the material in brine, oil or water. While the cooling process for steel is rapid, steel alloys require a slower cooling rate.

With our advanced process control system, we offer consistent mechanical and physical properties and uniform microstructures for all thermal-treated steel. Bekaert will use the correct quenching substance and hardening processes based on your steel composition and other factors to achieve the best results.

The hardening process can create high internal stress, low ductility and brittleness in the steel. When the material is tempered, this thermal process can provide the desired tensile strength and ductility required for your application while relieving or removing internal stress.

Our tempering process requires heating the steel, maintaining the temperature and cooling the steel by air. This process helps you achieve the desired physical properties in your steel product.

Why Choose Bekaert?

Bekaert is the world's largest independent manufacturer of drawn and shaped steel wire products. Our company offers several services under one roof, and our global experience makes us an excellent development partner. Our worldwide reach allows us to use the best equipment, processes and experience to deliver top-tier services for our clients.

Despite our global presence, we prioritize our relationships with individual clients. Bekaert provides personalized service to address your needs with solutions that work for you. We have metallurgists and engineers on staff who will discuss your steel options with you so you can make an informed decision.

We work to meet your specifications and exceed your expectations with every order. Our comprehensive processes help your company:

  • Save manufacturing costs by handling all the processes at one time.
  • Minimize waste.
  • Reduce lead times.
  • Get several thermal treatments under one roof.
  • Receive a high-quality product made with proven testing methods and equipment.
  • Start using your products right away thanks to our quick turnaround time.

Request a Quote for Our Thermal Treatment Services Today

Since 1880, Bekaert has been a leader in thermal treatment solutions for steel and other metals. We complete all of our services in-house, so we're your trusted partner for steel work. Our competitive lead times and tight tolerances make us an industry leader, and we offer free quotes and prototyping to ensure we are meeting your specifications.

Choose Bekaert as your thermal treatment supplier and benefit from the skill and experience of our proven team. Call +1 330-683-5060 or contact us to place an order or learn more about our annealed steel wire.