A method for treating a porous item constructed of metal powder, such as a powder made of Series 400 stainless steel, involves a step of preheating the porous item to a temperature of between about 700 and 900.degree. C. degrees in an oxidizing atmosphere and then sintering the body in an inert or reducing atmosphere at a temperature which is slightly below the melting temperature of the metal which comprises the porous item. The thermal stability of the resulting item is enhanced by this method so that the item retains its porosity and metallic characteristics, such as ductility, at higher (e.g. near-melting) temperatures.
This invention was made with Government support under Contract No. DE-AC05-00OR22725 awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy to UT-Battelle, LLC, and the Government has certain rights to the invention.