Abstract

The ion or plasma nitriding process has been around for many decades. Developed in the late 1930s, the process was used extensively in Europe. During the 1980s, the process became more popular in the U.S., and many systems were purchased. Early on, the process was not widely understood, and some applications were not a good fit. As plasma nitriding advantages and limitations became realized, the process found its niche in many different industries. Very demanding applications proved to be good applications for ion over gas nitriding. In general, plasma nitriding uses high voltage power operating in the 500–100VDC range, often conducting hundreds of amps to power the process by activating the glow discharge. The glow discharge is not only capable of heating the parts but also ionizes the atmosphere to allow the process to operate. This paper provides insight into plasma nitriding and discusses new advances, widening the range of applications for the process. Many of the advances are in the form of advanced process control electronics, mass flow controllers for process gas flow, and, most importantly, newer high voltage power supply designs with high speed microprocessor arc detection technology.

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