Hardenability of steel is the property that determines the depth and distribution of hardness induced by quenching. Hardenability is usually the single most important factor in the selection of steel for heat-treated parts. The hardenability of a steel is best assessed by studying the hardening response of the steel to cooling in a standardized configuration in which a variety of cooling rates can be easily and consistently reproduced from one test to another. These include the Jominy end-quench test, the carburized hardenability test, and the air hardenability test. Tests that are more suited to very low hardenability steels include the hot-brine test and the surface-area-center test. The article discusses the effects of varying carbon content as well as the influence of different alloying elements. It includes charts and a table that serve as a general steel hardenability selection guide.
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