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Hearst Mining building (stone, left) with expansion (shot peened) aluminum alloy, right. Hearst memorial mining building.jpg
Hearst Mining building (stone, left) with expansion (shot peened) aluminum alloy, right.

Peening is the process of working a metal's surface to improve its material properties, usually by mechanical means, such as hammer blows, by blasting with shot (shot peening) or blasts of light beams with laser peening. Peening is normally a cold work process, with laser peening being a notable exception. It tends to expand the surface of the cold metal, thereby inducing compressive stresses or relieving tensile stresses already present. Peening can also encourage strain hardening of the surface metal.


Residual stress

Plastic deformation from peening induces a residual compressive stress in a peened surface, along with tensile stress in the interior. This stress state resembles the one seen in toughened glass, and is useful for similar reasons.

Surface compressive stresses confer resistance to metal fatigue and to some forms of corrosion, since cracks will not grow in a compressive environment. The benefit comes at the expense of higher tensile stresses deeper in the part. However, the fatigue properties of the part will be improved, since the stresses are normally significantly higher at the surface in part due to surface imperfections and damage.

Work hardening

Cold work also serves to harden the material's surface. This makes cracks less likely to form at the surface and provides resistance to abrasion. When a metal undergoes strain hardening its yield strength increases but its ductility decreases. Strain hardening actually increases the number of dislocations in the crystal lattice of the material. When a material has a great number of dislocations, plastic deformation is hindered, and the material will continue to behave in an elastic way well beyond the elastic yield stress of the non-strain hardened material.

Residual strain / stretching

Plastic deformation from peening can be useful in stretching the surface of an object.

One common use of this peening (stretching) process can be seen in the auto repair and auto custom fabrication industries where manual or machine assisted peening is used to stretch thin sheet metal to create curved surfaces. The manual method uses a hand held peening hammer and is a form of planishing. There are also machine assisted methods that use a version of a power hammer to peen the sheet metal.

Another use of the peening process is to flatten sheet metal and is specifically used as a primary technique to flatten steel belts used in industrial conveying and pressing operations. In this process a steel belt that has a cross curvature can be flattened by peening the concave surface to stretch it and thereby removing the cross-curvature by equalizing the surface length across the belt between the previously concave and convex surfaces. The shot peening of steel belts is usually achieved by using specialized equipment and special peening shot.

When peening is used to induce residual stress or work-harden an object, care needs to be taken with thin parts not to stretch the work-piece. Where stretching is unavoidable then allowances may need to be made in the part design or process application.

Use with welding

Hand peening may also be performed after welding to help relieve the tensile stresses that develop on cooling in the welded metal (as well as the surrounding base metal). The level of reduction in tensile stress is minimal and only occurs on or near to the weld surface. Other methods, like heat spots (if applicable), help reduce residual tensile stresses. Peening will induce a higher hardness into the weld and this is something that should be avoided. For this reason, peening is not normally accepted by the majority of codes, standards or specifications. [1] Any peening that is carried out on a weld should have been carried out on the weld procedure qualification test piece.

The welding procedure qualification test piece replicates all of the essential variables that will be used in production welding. If the weld is peened during the qualification of a welding procedure, the subsequent mechanical testing of the procedure qualification test piece will demonstrate the mechanical properties of the weld. These mechanical properties must, as a minimum, match the mechanical properties of the materials that have been welded together. If they do not, the procedure has failed and the welding procedure is not acceptable for use in production welding.

Sharpening blades

Peening a scythe blade using the jig Peening blade2.jpg
Peening a scythe blade using the jig

Scythe and sickle blades have traditionally been sharpened by occasional peening followed by frequent honing in the field during use. A blade can be sharpened by reforming the malleable steel to create an edge profile that can then be honed. Nicks and cuts to the blade edge can be worked out of the blade by peening and a new edge profile then formed for honing.

A peening jig anvil, with two colour-coded caps for different angles Peening jig anvil.jpg
A peening jig anvil, with two colour-coded caps for different angles

Blades can be free-peened using various designs of peening anvils, or worked on a peening jig. A peening jig may have interchangeable caps that set different angles: a coarse angle can be set first about 3 millimetres (0.12 in) back from the edge, and a fine angle is then set on the edge, leaving an edge that lends itself to being easily honed. The blade can then be honed using progressively finer honing stones until it is ready for use. [2] [3]


During construction of Barker Dam hydroelectric facilities between 1908 and 1910, workers discovered that striking welds while they were still warm improved their strength. [4]

The first published article about peening was written in Germany in 1929, and was specifically about shot peening. The first patent for shot peening was taken out in Germany in 1934 but was never commercially implemented. Independently in 1930, a few engineers at Buick noticed that shot blasting (as it was originally termed) made springs resistant to fatigue. This process was then adopted by the automotive industry. Zimmerli first published a report in 1940. John Almen did more research, and during World War 2 introduced it to the aircraft industry. [5]

By 1950, peening became an accepted process and was being included in engineering literature. In the same year, peen forming was invented to form the wing skin of the Super Constellation aircraft. [5]

In the early 1970s, peening experienced a major innovation when researchers such as Allan Clauer at Battelle labs in Columbus, Ohio applied high-intensity laser beams onto metal components to achieve deep compressive residual stresses, which they patented as Laser Shock Peening, and became known as laser peening in the late 1990s, when it was first applied to gas-fired turbine engine fan blades for the U.S. Air Force.

See also

Related Research Articles

Metallurgy Domain of materials science that studies the physical and chemical behavior of metals

Metallurgy is a domain of materials science and engineering that studies the physical and chemical behavior of metallic elements, their inter-metallic compounds, and their mixtures, which are called alloys. Metallurgy encompasses both the science and the technology of metals; that is, the way in which science is applied to the production of metals, and the engineering of metal components used in products for both consumers and manufacturers. Metallurgy is distinct from the craft of metalworking. Metalworking relies on metallurgy in a similar manner to how medicine relies on medical science for technical advancement. A specialist practitioner of metallurgy is known as a metallurgist.

Ductility Material ability to undergo significant plastic deformation before rupture

Ductility is a mechanical property commonly described as a material's amenability to drawing. In materials science, ductility is defined by the degree to which a material can sustain plastic deformation under tensile stress before failure. Ductility is an important consideration in engineering and manufacturing, defining a material's suitability for certain manufacturing operations and its capacity to absorb mechanical overload. Materials that are generally described as ductile include gold and copper.

Blacksmith Person who creates wrought iron or steel products by forging, hammering, bending, and cutting

A blacksmith is a metalsmith who creates objects primarily from wrought iron or steel, but sometimes from other metals, by forging the metal, using tools to hammer, bend, and cut. Blacksmiths produce objects such as gates, grilles, railings, light fixtures, furniture, sculpture, tools, agricultural implements, decorative and religious items, cooking utensils, and weapons. There was an historical opposition between the heavy work of the blacksmith and the more delicate operation of a whitesmith, who usually worked in gold, silver, pewter, or the finishing steps of fine steel. The place where a blacksmith works is called variously a smithy, a forge or a blacksmith's shop.


A scythe is an agricultural hand tool for mowing grass or harvesting crops. It is traditionally used to cut down or reap edible grains, before the process of threshing. The scythe has largely been replaced by horse-drawn and then tractor machinery, but is still used in some areas of Europe and Asia. Reapers are bladed machines that automate the cutting of the scythe, and sometimes subsequent steps in preparing the grain or the straw or hay.

Fatigue (material) The initiation and propagation of cracks in a material due to cyclic loading

In materials science, fatigue is the initiation and propagation of cracks in a material due to cyclic loading. Once a fatigue crack has initiated, it grows a small amount with each loading cycle, typically producing striations on some parts of the fracture surface. The crack will continue to grow until it reaches a critical size, which occurs when the stress intensity factor of the crack exceeds the fracture toughness of the material, producing rapid propagation and typically complete fracture of the structure.


Autofrettage is a metal cold forming technique in which a pressure vessel is subjected to enormous pressure, causing internal portions of the part to yield plastically, resulting in internal compressive residual stresses once the pressure is released. The goal of autofrettage is to increase the durability of the final product. Inducing residual compressive stresses into materials can also increase their resistance to stress corrosion cracking; that is, non-mechanically-assisted cracking that occurs when a material is placed in a corrosive environment in the presence of tensile stress. The technique is commonly used in manufacture of high-pressure pump cylinders, warship and tank gun barrels, and fuel injection systems for diesel engines. While autofrettage will induce some work hardening, that is not the primary mechanism of strengthening.

Ball-peen hammer Type of hammer used in metalworking

A ball-peen or ball peinhammer, also known as a machinist's hammer, is a type of peening hammer used in metalworking. It has two heads, one flat and the other, called the peen, rounded. It is distinguished from a cross-peen hammer, diagonal-peen hammer, point-peen hammer, or chisel-peen hammer by having a hemispherical peen.

Work hardening

Work hardening, also known as strain hardening, is the strengthening of a metal or polymer by plastic deformation. Work hardening may be desirable, undesirable, or inconsequential, depending on the context.

Shot peening

Shot peening is a cold working process used to produce a compressive residual stress layer and modify the mechanical properties of metals and composites. It entails striking a surface with shot with force sufficient to create plastic deformation.

Residual stress

Residual stresses are stresses that remain in a solid material after the original cause of the stresses has been removed. Residual stress may be desirable or undesirable. For example, laser peening imparts deep beneficial compressive residual stresses into metal components such as turbine engine fan blades, and it is used in toughened glass to allow for large, thin, crack- and scratch-resistant glass displays on smartphones. However, unintended residual stress in a designed structure may cause it to fail prematurely.

Surface finishing is a broad range of industrial processes that alter the surface of a manufactured item to achieve a certain property. Finishing processes may be employed to: improve appearance, adhesion or wettability, solderability, corrosion resistance, tarnish resistance, chemical resistance, wear resistance, hardness, modify electrical conductivity, remove burrs and other surface flaws, and control the surface friction. In limited cases some of these techniques can be used to restore original dimensions to salvage or repair an item. An unfinished surface is often called mill finish.

Stress corrosion cracking The growth of cracks in a corrosive environment

Stress corrosion cracking (SCC) is the growth of crack formation in a corrosive environment. It can lead to unexpected and sudden failure of normally ductile metal alloys subjected to a tensile stress, especially at elevated temperature. SCC is highly chemically specific in that certain alloys are likely to undergo SCC only when exposed to a small number of chemical environments. The chemical environment that causes SCC for a given alloy is often one which is only mildly corrosive to the metal. Hence, metal parts with severe SCC can appear bright and shiny, while being filled with microscopic cracks. This factor makes it common for SCC to go undetected prior to failure. SCC often progresses rapidly, and is more common among alloys than pure metals. The specific environment is of crucial importance, and only very small concentrations of certain highly active chemicals are needed to produce catastrophic cracking, often leading to devastating and unexpected failure.

Induction hardening is a type of surface hardening in which a metal part is induction-heated and then quenched. The quenched metal undergoes a martensitic transformation, increasing the hardness and brittleness of the part. Induction hardening is used to selectively harden areas of a part or assembly without affecting the properties of the part as a whole.

Laser peening (LP), or laser shock peening (LSP), is a surface engineering process used to impart beneficial residual stresses in materials. The deep, high-magnitude compressive residual stresses induced by laser peening increase the resistance of materials to surface-related failures, such as fatigue, fretting fatigue and stress corrosion cracking. Laser shock peening can also be used to strengthen thin sections, harden surfaces, shape or straighten parts, break up hard materials, compact powdered metals and for other applications where high pressure, short duration shock waves offer desirable processing results.

Cold forming or cold working is any metalworking process in which metal is shaped below its recrystallization temperature, usually at the ambient temperature. Such processes are contrasted with hot working techniques like hot rolling, forging, welding, etc.

Low plasticity burnishing (LPB) is a method of metal improvement that provides deep, stable surface compressive residual stresses with little cold work for improved damage tolerance and metal fatigue life extension. Improved fretting fatigue and stress corrosion performance has been documented, even at elevated temperatures where the compression from other metal improvement processes relax. The resulting deep layer of compressive residual stress has also been shown to improve high cycle fatigue (HCF) and low cycle fatigue (LCF) performance.

High-frequency impact treatment

The high-frequency impact treatment or HiFIT – Method is the treatment of welded steel constructions at the weld transition to increase the fatigue strength.

Shot peening is a modern solution for deformed steel belts. The shot peening process is quick and cost-effective. Compared with other methods the shot peening is lower cost and does not interrupt daily production. A deformed steel belt has the following disadvantages:

Peen may refer to:

Laser polishing, also referred to as laser re-melting, is a type of micro-melting process employed for improving surface quality of materials. As opposed to other conventional polishing processes, this process does not involve removal of materials from the workpiece surface. In this process, the laser is made incident on the workpiece to melt the surface till a certain depth, thus enabling subsequent betterment of surface parameters due to re-solidification of the melted material..


  1. ASME B31.3 para 328.5.1 (d) (location changes when new codes are published)
  4. "History of Barker Reservoir". City of Boulder, Colorado. Archived from the original on 2007-10-04.
  5. 1 2 Fuchs, H. O.; Cary, P. E., History of Shot Peening (PDF), First International Conference on Shot Peening.