Alloys tempers :

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The temper or delivery state:

It exists several processes to harden a metal:

· The first one is to mix the initial metal with other compounds, generally metallical compounds, to make the alloys.

· The second one is to work harden the metal (pure or alloyed) by cold forming. That's true for all metals or alloys whatever they are.
More a metal is formed, more it hardens until it breaks.

When a metal is formed, it is so "hard", then it has no longer its "flexibility" and its deformation ability. For giving back its "flexibility" and for softening it, just heat up it and bake. The metal or the alloy is so in its softer state called annealing and symbolized by the letter "O".

When an annealed metal is cold deformed, it work-hardens proportionnally to the increasing quantity of deformation and work hardening until it cannot be longer deformed.
Between these two states, there are several intermediate work hardening conditions.

Work hardening condition:

The work hardening conditions are symbolized by the letter "H" followed by the figure 1 and a figure that represents the work hardening quantity, indicating the hardness level.
Between the work hardening condition "O" and the total work hardening one, there are three intermediate states.
For the aluminum alloys, the total work hardening condition is symbolized by H18 and the intermediate states H12, H14, H16.
For the copper alloys, the total work hardening condition is symbolized by H14, and the intermediate states : H11, H12, H13.

Partially annealed:

The intermediate work hardening conditions are obtained from an annealed metal by a partial work hardening. To obtain the corresponding mechanical characteristics to these states, it exists an other process: from a totally work hardening condition, the product is reheated at a lower temperature than the one of the work hardening.
These states are so symbolized by the letter "H" followed by the figure 2 instead of the figure 1. For example: H21, H22, H23…

Stabilized conditions:

The products obtained by work hardening of which the state is symbolized by H1x, keep internal stresses during that deformation process, they are "fibrous". That may be prejudicial to their use. To eliminate these stresses, they are put in a low temperature furnace for making them a stress relief and stabilization treatment. That treatment does not very much modify the mechanical characteristics obtained during the work hardening process.
The states obtained in this way are symbolized by the letter "H" followed by the figure 3 instead of the figure 1, and followed by the same figure that the one in the work hardening condition in which they were before that treatment. For example: H31, H32, H33…

· The third process to harden an alloy can be used only for some alloys; for the aluminum, only the alloys from series 2000, 6000 and 7000 can be hardened by this way that is called age hardening.
The age hardening consists of doing a serial heating and cooling to the product.
Firstly, the product is put during a short time at a high temperature: it is the solution treatment, then it is immediately cooled : it is the quenching. At this stage, the alloy is soft and for hardening it, it must either keep it at an ambient temperature during some days (it is the aging), or accelerate that aging by putting it at a low temperature during a quite long time (it is the artificial ageing).

The strain hardening and the age hardening can, of course, be combined for these alloys; they can so reach very strong mechanical characteristics.

The delivery states for the products having had an age hardening treatment are symbolized by the letter "T" followed by one or several figures depending if they are aged or artificial aged, simply quenched or strain hardened after quenching.
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Aluminum tempers :

Initial states:

F : Without treatment: no age hardening or strain hardening control has been used and no properties limit has been given.

O : Annealing: it is applied to the wrought products that are annealed to obtain the lowest mechanical resistance state. It is also applied to the cast products that are annealed for increasing their ductility and their size stability. The letter O can be followed by a figure. O1 : Annealed at a high temperature and slow cooling - O2: Special heat treatment - O3 : Homogenized.

H : Strain hardening (only wrought alloys): it is applied to the products of which the resistance is increased by strain hardening, with or without added heat treatments that decrease the resistance.

T : Heat treatments to obtain a stable state other than F, O or H with or without added strain hardening.

W : Solution treatment : that unstable temper is applied only to the alloys that spontaneously age at an ambient temperature after a heat treatment. The designation is used when the aging period is indicated, for example: W 1/2 h.


Hardening by strain hardening (series 1000, 3000, 5000):

 Hardness level

Strain hardened tempers 

Partially annealed

 Stabilized tempers




 1/8 hard




 1/4 hard




 1/2 hard




 3/4 hard




 4/4 hard




 extra hard



In addition, it exists other strain hardened tempers:
H111 : annealed and lightly strain hardened (less than H11) for example by extension or by planishing,
H116 : is applied to alloys 5000 of which the magnesium content is higher than 4 % et for which the mechanical characteristics limits and a exfoliated corrosion resistance is specified.

Age hardening (series 2000, 4000, 6000, 7000) :

The alloys from the families 2000, 6000 and 7000 can be hardened by heat solution treatment and quenching followed by an age hardening that is made:
- either at the ambient temperature (artificial or natural aging),
- or by heating (temper or accelerate aging or artificial aging).
Thanks to these treatments, they reach their maximale characteristics; in addition, it is possible to combine the strain hardening and the hardening by heat solution treatment, quenching and natural or artificial aging.
The solution treatment, heat treatment at high temperature, can be made in a furnace but for some alloys (especially the alloys from the family 6000), it can be made during a process of hot working.


Treatment in furnace

Hot working

Quenching + natural aging



Quenching + strain hardening + natural aging



Quenching + artificial aging



Quenching + under-aging



Quenching + over-aging



Quenching + over-aging desensitizing to the corrosion under stress


Quenching + over-aging desensitizing to the exfoliating corrosion


Quenching + strain hardening + artificial aging



Quenching + artificial aging + strain hardening



T51, T56 : standardized state only in the European standard NF EN 515 (October 1993).
T10 : standardized state only in the French standard NF A 02-006 (November 1985) that is cancelled and replaced by the European standard.

The quenching that follows the heat solution treatment introduces in a lot of products some internal stresses that deform them and that may damage to some processes; so, the products are stress relieved by extension, by compression or by both of them; the designation of the corresponding states is obtained by adding after the above mentioned figures following the letter "T", the following figures:

Txx51 ou Txx510 : stress relief by extension with no added straightening after the extension.
Txx511 : stress relief by extension followed by a straightening.
Txx52 : stress relief by compression.
Txx54 : stress relief by combined extension and compression.

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Old tempers designations according to NFA:

The old tempers designation according to NFA is defined as follows:

The letter X followed by three figures (ex X616)

The first figure represents the working out process:

Figure 1
Die forged
Hot extruded
Hot rolled
Cold rolled
Cold drawn
Cold wiredrawn

The second figure represents the treatment:

Figure 2
Quenched + artificial aged
Quenched + natural aged

The third figure represents the hardness level:

Figure 3
Without hardness indication
¼ hard
½ hard
¾ hard
Extra hard
Straightened or planished

Example X446 : Hot rolling + quenching + planishing + natural aging

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Tempers of wrought coppers and alloys of coppers:

According to NF A 02- 008:

Hardness levels

  Strain hardened tempers 

Partially annealed

Stress relief states




 1/4 hard




 1/2 hard




 3/4 hard




 4/4 hard






Some alloys may be hardened by heat treatment; the corresponding states although listed in the standard NF A 02-008 are rarely used; the following terms are preferred:

TR : quenched - artificial aged
TE : quenched - strain hardened
TER : quenched - strain hardened - artificial aged
TRE : quenched - artificial aged - strain hardened

These alloys are lightly alloyed coppers such as CuCr, CuCrZr, CuFe, CuCo (TER or TRE), CuNiSi (TER), CuBe2, CuCoBe and some cupro-nickels ( TE or TER).

Non tempering tempers (Copper with beryllium):
Soft quenchend temper
1/4 hard
TD 2
1/2 hard
TD 3
TD 4

Special alloys tempers:

Annealing followed by the quenching
TD01 to TD04
TB00 + strain hardening from 10 to 40 %
TB00 + Artificial ageing treatment
TS01 to TS04
TD xx + Artificial ageing treatment
TB00 + Special artificial ageing treatment
TM02 to TM08
The same than TM00 from a TDxx temper


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According to EN 1173 :

Generally, the designation of the tempers includes 4 alphanumeric characters:

The first character must be a capital letter that indicates a characteristic obligatory for pointing out:

Elastic bending limit
As-drawing, without mechanical characteristics specifications
Grain size
Hardness (Brinell or Vickers)
As-manufacturing, without mechanical characteristics specifications
Tensile strength
Conventional yield point at 0,2 %

The ranks 2 to 4 correspond to 3 figures showing the minimum value of the specified compulsory property (except for D, G and M). For D and M, not any other character follows. For the properties of G, the 3 figures indicate the median value of the obligatory property.

A fourth figure may also be added, for example for some high tensile strength alloys able to be treated at high temperature.

If a stress relief treatment is necessary, the suffix S is added.

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According to ASTM B601:

Copper Temper Name ASTM Code
1/8 Hard H00
1/4 Hard H01
1/2 Hard H02
3/4 Hard H03
Hard H04
Extra Hard H06
Spring H08
Extra Spring H10
Special Spring H12
Ultra Spring H13
Super Spring H14
Extruded and Drawn H50
Pierced and Drawn H52
Light Drawn, Light Cold Rolled H55
Drawn General Purpose H58
Cold Heading and Forming H60
Rivet H63
Screw H64
Bolt H66
Bending H70
Hard Drawn H80
Medium Hard Drawn Electrical Wire H85
Hard Drawn Electrical Wire H86
As Finned H90
As Manufactured Tempers ASTM Code
As Sand Cast M01
As Centrifugal Cast M02
As Plaster Cast M03
As Pressure Die Cast M04
As Permanent Mold Cast M05
As Investment Cast M06
As Continuous Cast M07
As Hot Forged and Air Cooled M10
As Forged and Quenched M11
As Hot Rolled M20
As Hot Extruded M30
As Hot Pierced M40
As Hot Pierced and Rerolled M45
Cold Worked/Stress Relieved Tempers ASTM Code
H01 Temper and Stress Relieved HR01
H02 Temper and Stress Relieved HR02
H04 Temper and Stress Relieved HR04
H08 Temper and Stress Relieved HR08
H10 Temper and Stress Relieved HR10
As Finned HR20
Drawn and Stress Relieved HR50
Cold Rolled/Order Strengthened Tempers ASTM Code
H04 Temper and Order Heat Treated HT04
H08 Temper and Order Heat Treated HT08

Correspondences of the tempers of copper alloys according to the standards:

According to NF A
According to EN 1173 (for pure coppers)
According to EN 1173 (for brass)
According DIN
Hardness level
Strain hardened
1/4 hard
1/2 hard
3/4 hard
4/4 hard





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Tempers of cast copper alloys:

Mold sand



Y 20
Die casted


Y 30
Pressure cast

Y 40
By continuous casting



Y 70
By centrifugation



Y 80

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