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Carbonitriding is a metallurgical surface modification technique that is used to increase the surface hardness of a metal, thereby reducing wear.
During the process, atoms of carbon and nitrogen diffuse interstitially into the metal, creating barriers to slip, increasing the hardness and modulus near the surface. Carbonitriding is often applied to inexpensive, easily machined low carbon steel to impart the surface properties of more expensive and difficult to work grades of steel.Surface hardness of carbonitrided parts ranges from 55 to 62 HRC.
Certain pre-industrial case hardening processes include not only carbon-rich materials such as charcoal, but nitrogen-rich materials such as urea, which implies that traditional surface hardening techniques were a form of carbonitriding.
Carbonitriding is similar to gas carburization with the addition of ammonia to the carburizing atmosphere, which provides a source of nitrogen. Nitrogen is absorbed at the surface and diffuses into the workpiece along with carbon. Carbonitriding (around 850 °C / 1550 °F) is carried out at temperatures substantially higher than plain nitriding (around 530 °C / 990 °F) but slightly lower than those used for carburizing (around 950 °C / 1700 °F) and for shorter times. Carbonitriding tends to be more economical than carburizing, and also reduces distortion during quenching. The lower temperature allows oil quenching, or even gas quenching with a protective atmosphere.
Carbonitriding forms a hard, wear-resistant case, is typically 0.07 mm to 0.5 mm thick, and generally has higher hardness than a carburized case. Case depth is tailored to the application; a thicker case increases the wear life of the part. Carbonitriding alters only the top layers of the workpiece; and does not deposit an additional layer, so the process does not significantly alter the dimensions of the part.
Maximum case depth is typically restricted to 0.75 mm; case depths greater than this take too long to diffuse to be economical. Shorter processing times are preferred to restrict the concentration of nitrogen in the case, as nitrogen addition is more difficult to control than carbon. An excess of nitrogen in the work piece can cause high levels of retained austenite and porosity, which are undesirable in producing a part of high hardness.
Carbonitriding also has other advantages over carburizing. To begin, it has a greater resistance to softening during tempering and increased fatigue and impact strength. It is possible to use both carbonitriding and carburizing together to form optimum conditions of deeper case depths and therefore performance of the part in industry. This method is applied particularly to steels with low case hardenability, such as the seat of the valve. The process applied is initially carburizing to the required case depth (up to 2.5 mm) at around 900-955°C, and then carbonitriding to achieve required carbonitrided case depth. The parts are then oil quenched, and the resulting part has a harder case than possibly achieved for carburization, and the addition of the carbonitrided layer increases the residual compressive stresses in the case such that the contact fatigue resistance and strength gradient are both increased. Studies are showing that carbonitriding improves corrosion resistance.
Typical applications for case hardening are gear teeth, cams, shafts, bearings, fasteners, pins, hydraulic piston rods, automotive clutch plates, tools, dies and tillage tools.
Heat treating is a group of industrial, thermal and metalworking processes used to alter the physical, and sometimes chemical, properties of a material. The most common application is metallurgical. Heat treatments are also used in the manufacture of many other materials, such as glass. Heat treatment involves the use of heating or chilling, normally to extreme temperatures, to achieve the desired result such as hardening or softening of a material. Heat treatment techniques include annealing, case hardening, precipitation strengthening, tempering, carburizing, normalizing and quenching. Although the term heat treatment applies only to processes where the heating and cooling are done for the specific purpose of altering properties intentionally, heating and cooling often occur incidentally during other manufacturing processes such as hot forming or welding.
Carbon steel is a steel with carbon content up to 2.1% by weight. The definition of carbon steel from the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) states:
In materials science, quenching is the rapid cooling of a workpiece in water, oil or air to obtain certain material properties. A type of heat treating, quenching prevents undesired low-temperature processes, such as phase transformations, from occurring. It does this by reducing the window of time during which these undesired reactions are both thermodynamically favorable, and kinetically accessible; for instance, quenching can reduce the crystal grain size of both metallic and plastic materials, increasing their hardness.
Carburizing, carburising, or carburization is a heat treatment process in which iron or steel absorbs carbon while the metal is heated in the presence of a carbon-bearing material, such as charcoal or carbon monoxide. The intent is to make the metal harder. Depending on the amount of time and temperature, the affected area can vary in carbon content. Longer carburizing times and higher temperatures typically increase the depth of carbon diffusion. When the iron or steel is cooled rapidly by quenching, the higher carbon content on the outer surface becomes hard due to the transformation from austenite to martensite, while the core remains soft and tough as a ferritic and/or pearlite microstructure.
Case-hardening or surface hardening is the process of hardening the surface of a metal object while allowing the metal deeper underneath to remain soft, thus forming a thin layer of harder metal at the surface. For iron or steel with low carbon content, which has poor to no hardenability of its own, the case-hardening process involves infusing additional carbon or nitrogen into the surface layer. Case-hardening is usually done after the part has been formed into its final shape, but can also be done to increase the hardening element content of bars to be used in a pattern welding or similar process. The term Face hardening is also used to describe this technique, when discussing modern armour.
Tempering is a process of heat treating, which is used to increase the toughness of iron-based alloys. Tempering is usually performed after hardening, to reduce some of the excess hardness, and is done by heating the metal to some temperature below the critical point for a certain period of time, then allowing it to cool in still air. The exact temperature determines the amount of hardness removed, and depends on both the specific composition of the alloy and on the desired properties in the finished product. For instance, very hard tools are often tempered at low temperatures, while springs are tempered at much higher temperatures.
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.
Quench polish quench (QPQ) is a specialized type of nitrocarburizing case hardening that increases corrosion resistance. It is sometimes known by the brand name of Tufftride, Tenifer or Melonite. Three steps are involved: nitrocarburize ("quench"), polish, and post-oxidize ("quench").
The hardenability of a metal alloy is the depth to which a material is hardened after putting it through a heat treatment process. It should not be confused with hardness, which is a measure of a sample's resistance to indentation or scratching. It is an important property for welding, since it is inversely proportional to weldability, that is, the ease of welding a material.
Hardening is a metallurgical metalworking process used to increase the hardness of a metal. The hardness of a metal is directly proportional to the uniaxial yield stress at the location of the imposed strain. A harder metal will have a higher resistance to plastic deformation than a less hard metal.
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.
In metallurgy and materials science, annealing is a heat treatment that alters the physical and sometimes chemical properties of a material to increase its ductility and reduce its hardness, making it more workable. It involves heating a material above its recrystallization temperature, maintaining a suitable temperature for an appropriate amount of time and then cooling.
Nitriding is a heat treating process that diffuses nitrogen into the surface of a metal to create a case-hardened surface. These processes are most commonly used on low-carbon, low-alloy steels. They are also used on medium and high-carbon steels, titanium, aluminium and molybdenum. In 2015, nitriding was used to generate unique duplex microstructure, known to be associated with strongly enhanced mechanical properties
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.
Boriding, also called boronizing, is the process by which boron is added to a metal or alloy. It is a type of surface hardening. In this process boron atoms are diffused into the surface of a metal component. The resulting surface contains metal borides, such as iron borides, nickel borides, and cobalt borides, As pure materials, these borides have extremely high hardness and wear resistance. Their favorable properties are manifested even when they are a small fraction of the bulk solid. Boronized metal parts are extremely wear resistant and will often last two to five times longer than components treated with conventional heat treatments such as hardening, carburizing, nitriding, nitrocarburizing or induction hardening. Most borided steel surfaces will have iron boride layer hardnesses ranging from 1200-1600 HV. Nickel-based superalloys such as Inconel and Hastalloys will typically have nickel boride layer hardnesses of 1700-2300 HV.
Diffusion hardening is a process used in manufacturing that increases the hardness of steels. In diffusion hardening, diffusion occurs between a steel with a low carbon content and a carbon-rich environment to increase the carbon content of the steel and ultimately harden the workpiece. Diffusion only happens through a small thickness of a piece of steel, so only the surface is hardened while the core maintains its original mechanical properties. Heat treating may be performed on a diffusion hardened part to increase the hardness of the core as desired, but in most cases in which diffusion hardening is performed, it is desirable to have parts with a hard outer shell and a more ductile inside. Heat treating and quenching is a more efficient process if hardness is desired throughout the whole part. In the case of manufacturing parts subject to large amounts of wear, such as gears, the non-uniform properties acquired through diffusion hardening are desired. Through this process, gears obtain a hard wear-resistant outer shell but maintain their softer and more impact-resistant core.
Austempering is heat treatment that is applied to ferrous metals, most notably steel and ductile iron. In steel it produces a bainite microstructure whereas in cast irons it produces a structure of acicular ferrite and high carbon, stabilized austenite known as ausferrite. It is primarily used to improve mechanical properties or reduce / eliminate distortion. Austempering is defined by both the process and the resultant microstructure. Typical austempering process parameters applied to an unsuitable material will not result in the formation of bainite or ausferrite and thus the final product will not be called austempered. Both microstructures may also be produced via other methods. For example, they may be produced as-cast or air cooled with the proper alloy content. These materials are also not referred to as austempered.
Ferritic nitrocarburizing, also known by the proprietary names Tennifer/ Tenifer and Melonite, is a range of proprietary case hardening processes that diffuse nitrogen and carbon into ferrous metals at sub-critical temperatures during a salt bath. The processing temperature ranges from 525 °C (977 °F) to 625 °C (1,157 °F), but usually occurs at 565 °C (1,049 °F). At this temperature steels and other ferrous alloys are still in a ferritic phase, which is advantageous compared to other case hardening processes that occur in the austenitic phase. There are four main classes of ferritic nitrocarburizing: gaseous, salt bath, ion or plasma, and fluidized-bed.
HY-80 is a high-tensile, high yield strength, low alloy steel. It was developed for use in naval applications, specifically the development of pressure hulls for the US nuclear submarine program and is still currently used in many naval applications. It is valued for its strength to weight ratio.