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Annealing Services

So much has been written about the benefits of case annealing that we will avoid going into the depths to explain why many, including us, believe it is an important and very cost effective way to increase the number of times a case can be reloaded and increasing accuracy. You can find a plethora of information about this topic both on line and in print.

What is not so widely discussed are factors that define how well case annealing is performed. We hope to touch on those.

There are two primary ways to heat the appropriate parts of the case to the required temperature for the correct amount of time: Flame(s) and Induction. We'll compare the two to give you a better idea why we spent the extra money to go down the Induction path to case annealing.

The least expensive and most common method to anneal cases is using a flame from a standard propane torch. Because of its low initial setup cost, most commercial and almost all do-it-yourselfers use the flame method. But, the flame method is also very difficult to control, has poor repeatability and because the case must stay in the flame for such a long time (5-7 seconds for a .223/5.56 case) it can cause a great amount of heat spread in areas of the case that should never be annealed. Bottom line, without solid quality control procedures and checks, it is difficult to determine if cases are properly annealed and that only the neck and shoulder are annealed when using a flame.

Setting up an induction annealing station is far more expensive than a flame based system but addresses most if not all concerns related to the flame based processes. The induction process uses high frequency electric current being passed though a toroid coil that has a gap into which the cases are placed. As current passes thorough the coil it generates a heavy magnetic field across the gap (only). When a metallic object is placed within the gap and the coil energized the resulting eddy currents generate heat within the object very quickly. Typical annealing time for a .223/5.56 case is only 1.7 seconds vs 5-7 seconds required by flame annealing and reduces heat spread into the case body. The magnetic field also causes the case to become self-centered in the gap. And since the eddy currents flow through the case it doesn't need to be rotated to ensure even heating. The amount of time the coil is energized is controlled by precision counters within the annealing inverter which ensures a very repeatable and quality quality process.

With longer duty cycles or continuous operation, heat can build up in the annealing coil. As that happens the electrical characteristics of the coil can shift to a point where it affects the quality of the annealing process. With the low duty cycles needed to anneal smaller caliber cases the heat buildup is insignificant, but to anneal larger magnum calibers and especially 50 BMG cases, the duty cycle greatly increases. To address the heat issue, water cooled coils are available to keep the coil at or near room temperature.

We use an Induction Annealing process with water cooled coils for all of our case processing. We currently have multiple coils (all water cooled) each with a gap specifically sized to most efficiently and properly anneal all cases from .22 caliber all the way to the 50 BMG. The annealing timer allows us to energize the coils to 0.1 seconds of accuracy.


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