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Hydrogen Embrittlement
Stress Relief

Pre and post process treatments are often key to a long-lasting and effective surface finish. Diligent preparation and post-process measures can prevent corrosion, damage, and other forms of wear down the line. One of those types of wear is called Embrittlement.

Embrittlement occurs in metals when they absorb foreign materials into their surface causing them to lose ductility. The loss of ductility on the surface of the metal causes it to become brittle, forming holes throughout the surface and underlying layers of the metal. Embrittlement can eventually lead to a component’s loss of functionality, cracking, or breaking. One of the most common kinds of embrittlement is Hydrogen Embrittlement.

Hydrogen Embrittlement can occur at a variety of different points during the metal manufacturing process, but most typically during wielding or storage. Hydrogen Embrittlement can be detrimental to components load bearing abilities and overall functionality. Luckily, through AOTCO’s Hydrogen Embrittlement Stress Relief post processes, embrittlement can be prevented.

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What is Hydrogen Embrittlement Stress Relief

Hydrogen Stress Relief, also known as a Hydrogen Bake, is the process of increasing temperature to “bake” out the hydrogen from within the substrate. A hydrogen bake is most effective if done within an hour from the substrate’s introduction to the hydrogen, so it is necessary to always have a watchful eye on your components during their manufacturing and finishing processes. If not baked out fast enough, the hydrogen will subside within the component, causing Hydrogen embrittlement. 

The temperature of the bake and time spent in the oven are entirely dependent on the material of the substrate, how much hydrogen is present, and the hardness of the metal. Most hydrogen is removed from the substrate within the first few hours, however some more extreme cases and other difficult present foreign materials can take up to 24 hours to fully remove.

aluminum finishes

Benefits of Hydrogen Embrittlement Stress Relief

When considering all the elements of a successful surface finishing process, an effective post-process treatment may not be the first thing that comes to mind, but it is essential. Hydrogen Embrittlement Stress Relief can be crucial to the development of some components, and potentially save your company financial stress in the long run. The most notable benefits of Hydrogen Embrittlement Stress Relief are:

  • Can Salvage Components 
  • Increases functionality of component
  • Increases lifespan of component 
  • Ultimately lowers costs from future maintenance/replacement
  • Decreases the need for maintenance / increases time between maintenance 
  • Cost Effective 

For more information about AOTCO’s Hydrogen Embrittlement Stress Relief, plating, anodizing, and other surface finishing services, feel free to contact us at 1-888-275-0880!


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