Austenitic stainless steels are carburized or nitrided (i.e., surface hardened) at low temperatures in order to maintain their superior corrosion resistance. Treatment temperature must be low enough to prevent precipitation in the diffusion zone, yet high enough to allow sufficient diffusion depths to meet design specifications. At these temperatures, prior machining processes can have a significant effect not only on diffusion, but also the surface hardness and corrosion resistance achieved. This paper presents practical examples showing how cutting, grinding, honing, and polishing processes influence the results of low temperature surface hardening treatments for stainless steel parts. It also discusses the influence of surface deformation and finish.

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