Steel Heat Treating Fundamentals and Processes
Carburizing and Carbonitriding of Steels
Carburization is the process of intentionally increasing the carbon content of a steel surface so that a hardened case can be produced by martensitic transformation during quenching. Like carburizing, carbonitriding involves heating above the upper critical temperature to austenitize the steel. This article introduces the fundamentals, types, advantages and limitations, and the complications of various forms of carburizing, namely, pack carburizing, liquid carburizing or salt bath carburizing, gas carburizing, and low-pressure (vacuum) carburizing. The related process of carbonitriding is also briefly described in the article.
This article presents the different hardness test methods used to measure the effectiveness of surface carbon control in carburized parts of steel. Common test methods include Rockwell hardness measurements, superficial Rockwell 15N testing, and microhardness testing. The article provides information on the microscopic method used to detect smaller variations in carbon content, and reviews consecutive cuts analysis and spectrographic analysis that are used to accurately evaluate the carbon concentration profile of carburized parts. It describes procedures of and precautions to be undertaken during shim stock analysis, which is used to measure the atmosphere carbon potential. The article includes a discussion on the electromagnetic nondestructive tests that are used to evaluate the case depth of case-hardened parts.