Answer to Question #3615 in Molecular Physics | Thermodynamics for Mike Coffin
If I have steel washer in a room at a temperature of 70°F and I move it to a room at 100°F i know it will expand, but will the inside diameter of the washer increase or decrease and why?
Inside and outside diameters of the washer will increase with the temperature.When a substance is heated, its particles begin moving more and thus usually maintain a greater average separation. Materials which contract with increasing temperature are rare; this effect is limited in size, and only occurs within limited temperature ranges. The degree of expansion divided by the change in temperature is called the material's coefficient of thermal expansion and generally varies with temperature.
Thermal expansion is also used in mechanical applications to fit parts over one another, e.g. a bushing can be fitted over a shaft by making its inner diameter slightly smaller than the diameter of the shaft, then heating it until it fits over the shaft, and allowing it to cool after it has been pushed over the shaft, thus achieving a 'shrink fit'. Induction shrink fitting is a common industrial method to pre-heat metal components between 150 °C and 300 °C thereby causing them to expand and allow for the insertion or removal of another component.