Investigation of a Case Hardened Sleeve
A case-hardened sleeve made of C 15 (Material No. 1.0401) was flattened at two opposing sides and had cracked open at these places, the crack initiating at a face plane. The wall of the sleeve was 9 mm thick, but the flat ends were machined down to 5.5 mm from the outside. The customer had specified a 2 mm case depth and a hardness of at least HRC 55 at a depth of 1.5 mm. An etched cross section of the cracked end showed that the case layer had a depth of 2.3 mm, so that the sleeve was almost through-hardened at the flat ends. While the core material with the full wall thickness had the quench structure of low-carbon steel, the structure of the flattened area consisted of coarse acicular martensite with a small amount of pearlite (quench troostite) and ferrite. Therefore the sleeve was overheated and probably quenched directly from case. To prevent damage, it would have been necessary to have a lower case depth, carburize less deeply, and prevent overheating that causes brittleness and leads also to increased case depth, or else use a fine-grained steel of lower hardenability.