Tempering (metallurgy)

Tempering is a process of heat treating, which is used to increase the toughness of iron-based alloys. Tempering is usually performed after hardening, to reduce some of the excess hardness, and is done by heating the metal to some temperature below the critical point for a certain period of time, then allowing it to cool in still air. The exact temperature determines the amount of hardness removed, and depends on both the specific composition of the alloy and on the desired properties in the finished product. For instance, very hard tools are often tempered at low temperatures, while springs are tempered at much higher temperatures.

Differentially tempered steel. The various colors produced indicate the temperature to which the steel was heated. Light-straw indicates 204 °C (399 °F) and light blue indicates 337 °C (639 °F).[1][2]