Cryogenic Treatment

Cryogenics became popular over two decades ago when the high-performance and racing industries discovered the potential performance gains it has to offer. Essentially, cryogenics is a metal treatment that moves the grain structure in a metal alloy, making the alloy more durable. By freezing a component to approximately -320° F, the cooling process is said to rearrange the crystals in the metal, thereby realigning the atomic structure and relieving stress. Benefits include increased dimensional stability, reduced stresses in material, and improved wear resistance.

Over time, the various performance industries have come to recognize the benefits of cryogenic treatment. Most metals such as steel, cast alloys, aluminum, copper, etc., will benefit from cryogenic processing. Engine, transmission and suspension parts such as crankshafts, rods, pistons, gears and brake rotors made from heat-treated steels, cast irons, and other alloys are prime candidates for the cryogenic process.

Cryogenic treatment begins by loading a batch of parts into a cryogenic chamber, which is then sealed. The chamber’s temperature is then slowly lowered to approximately -320° F using liquid nitrogen. The extremely cold temperature is not kept static or fixed but includes cooling and heating ramps that are varied over time. Depending on the materials, these cycles may be repeated as necessary.

Cryogenic treatment is not a coating or only a surface treatment. Instead, the broadest cross-section of the part is treated, so the complete volume of the metal is structurally changed throughout. Essentially, cryogenic treatment is an extension of the part’s original heat-treating process.

Before treatment, each part is evaluated and a proprietary “process recipe” is created based on the size, weight, alloy and geometric size of the part. When the cryogenic process is finished, treated parts look practically unchanged. Prior to shipping us your parts, it is important that all machining is completed and the components are mocked up and checked before having the cryogenic treatment performed.

This service is charged by pound weight, and pricing varies. Additionally, after completing the cryogenic metal treatment, parts are normally isotropic super-finished.

Cryogenic Treatment Benefits

  • Stress Relief for Reduced Fatigue Failures
  • Increased Dimensional Stability
  • Improved Wear Resistance

Cryogenic Treatment Applications

  • Engine Components
  • Transmission Gears
  • Drivetrain Parts
  • Brake Rotors
  • Gun Barrels
  • Knives and Cutting Tools

Cryogenic Treatment FAQs

1) What are ATSF’s thoughts about Cryogenic Treatment (AKA Cryogenic Freezing)?
Cryogenic Treatment benefits include increased dimensional stability, reduced stresses in the material, and improved wear resistance. These benefits can be realized as long as the part’s base metal is of high quality. Problems can arise with parts having low-quality imported base metal or where the part’s quality is unknown.

2) I have heard that Isotropic super-finishing is typically done in conjunction with cryogenic treatment. Is this true, and in what order should the two processes be performed?
It is true that the two processes are commonly done together. Cryogenic treatment is always performed first and is then followed by isotropic super-finishing.

3) How does ATSF charge for cryogenic treatment?
Cryogenic treatment is priced by pound weight (16 oz). The cost ranges between $9.00 and $12.00 USD per pound. The process is done in batch loads and typically takes two to three weeks.