Annealing is used to reduce the hardness and increase the ductility and toughness of various steels, cast iron, aluminium and various alloys. It involves heating the workpiece beyond its recrystallisation temperature.
Annealing is usually done after a product undergoes mechanical operations (such as bending, forming, rolling, grinding, drawing, etc.) that lead to hard and brittle metals. This means that the material is difficult to process further and is susceptible to cracking. Thus annealing is most often carried out to return the metal to its pre-work state and make it more acceptable to subsequent operations.
The process is also used to relieve internal stresses as the final heat treatment operation to improve part service life and operational capabilities. In addition, annealing can also soften up weld solidifications and improve electrical conductivity.