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Hardenability is an expression of the propensity of steel to harden when quenched at the austenitizing temperature. It is defined in terms of the depth and distribution of alloying elements present in the steel. This article describes the selection process for steel with an emphasis on hardenability. It explains the significance of H-steels, and how they are guaranteed to meet established hardenability limits for specific temperatures and chemical compositions. The article compares hardenability curves for six series of steel and includes several charts showing composition and H-band limits for various alloy grades.

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