General Characteristics and Heat Treatments of Steels


The information and data contained in this SAE Information Report are intended as a guide in the selection of steel types and grades for various purposes. Consideration of the individual types of steel is preceded by a discussion of the factors affecting steel properties and characteristics. SAE steels are generally purchased on the basis of chemical composition requirements (SAE J403, J404, and J405). High-strength, low alloy (HSLA) steels (SAE J1392 and J1442) are generally purchased on the basis of mechanical properties; different chemical compositions are used to achieve the specified mechanical properties. Because these steels are characterized by their special mechanical properties obtained in the as-rolled condition, they are not intended for any heat treatment by the purchaser either before, during, or after fabrication. In many instances, as in the case of steels listed in SAE J1268 and J1868, hardenability is also a specification requirement. This information report can be used as a reference for determining the general characteristics and applications of commonly used SAE steels. The use of typical heat treatments listed in Tables 1 through 7 is recommended. These and other heat treatments commonly used on steel are briefly described at the end of this section.


The document needs to be reviewed and revised accordingly because it is well past its required 5 year periodic review.

  • SAE J 412
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