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Low-temperature surface hardening is mostly applied to austenitic stainless steels when a combination of excellent corrosion performance and wear performance is required. This article provides a brief history of low-temperature surface hardening of stainless steel, followed by a discussion on physical metallurgy, including crystallographic identity, thermal stability and decomposition, nitrogen and carbon solubility in expanded austenite, and diffusion kinetics of interstitials. It provides a description of low-temperature nitriding and nitrocarburizing processes for primarily austenitic and, to a lesser extent, other types of stainless steels along with practical examples and industrial applications of these steels.

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