Gear and Pinion Failures Due to Improper Carburization
A gear manufacturer experienced service problems with various gears and pinions that had worn prematurely or had fractured. All gears and pinions were forged from 1.60Mn-5Cr steel and were case hardened by pack carburizing. Gear Failure: One of the gears showed severe wear on the side of the teeth that came into contact with the opposing gear during engagement. The microstructure at the periphery of a worn tooth at its unworn side consisted of coarse acicular martensite with a large percentage of retained austenite. Pinion Failure: The teeth of the pinion exhibited severe spalling; the microstructure at the surface consisted of coarse acicular martensite with retained austenite. Also, a coarse network of precipitated carbide particles showed that the carburization of the case had appreciably exceeded the most favorable carbon content. This evidence supported the following conclusions: 1) High wear rate on the gears was caused by spalling of the coarse-grain surface layer. The underlying cause of the wear was overheating during the carburization. 2) Pinion failure resulted from overheating combined with excessive case carbon content. Thus, no recommendations were made.