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The process of nitriding has been used to case harden gears for years, but the science and technology of the process have not remained stagnant. New approaches have been developed which are definitely of interest to the gear designer. These include both new materials and new processing techniques.
When it comes to setting the standard for gear making, the auto industry often sets the pace. Thus when automakers went to grinding after hardening to assure precision, so did the machine shops that specialize in gearing. But in custom manufacturing of gears in small piece counts, post-heat treat grinding can grind away profits too.
The heat treating of gears presents a difficult challenge to both the heat treater and the gear manufacturer. The number and variety of variables involved in the manufacturing process itself and the subsequent heat treating cycle create a complex matrix of factors which need to be controlled in order to produce a quality product. A heat treater specializing in gears or a gear manufacturer doing his own heat treating must have a clear understanding of these issues in order to deliver a quality product and make a profit at the same time. The situation also presents a number of areas that could benefit greatly from continued research and development.
The Instrumented Factory for Gears (INFAC) conducted a metallurgical experiment that examined the effects of carburizing process variables and types of cryogenic treatments in modifying the microstructure of the material. The initial experiment was designed so that, following the carburizing cycles, the same test coupons could be used in future experiment.
Many potential problems are not apparent when using new induction heat treating systems. The operator has been trained properly, and setup parameters are already developed. Everything is fresh in one's mind. But as the equipment ages, personnel changes or new parts are required to be processed on the old equipment ages, personnel changes or new parts are required to b processed on the old equipment, important information can get lost in the shuffle.
Gear Technology's directory of heat treating suppliers for the gear industry.
So, you've been assigned the task to buy an induction heating system for heat treating: It's an intimidating, but by no means impossible, assignment. With the help of the information in this article, you could be able to develop common ground with your supplier and have the tools to work with him or her to get the right machine for your jobs.
Heat treating is a critical operation in gear manufacturing. It can make or break the quality of your final product. Yet it is one that frequently gear manufacturers outsource to someone else. Then the crucial question becomes, how do you know you're getting the right heat treater? How can you guarantee your end product when you have turned over this important process to someone else?
Gears are designed to be manufactured, processed and used without failure throughout the design life of the gear. One of INFAC's objectives (*see p.24) is to help manufacture of gears to optimize performance and life. One way to achieve this is to identify failure mechanisms and then devise strategies to overcome them by modifying the manufacturing parameters.
Graded hardening technology has proven over the years to yield very good results when used in the heat treating of carburized gears. It is especially advantageous for smaller companies, subject to higher competitive pressures. Unfortunately, despite the fact that graded hardening is a very well-known method, its use has been limited. We strongly recommend this technology to all of those who need to produce gears with high metallurgical quality.
In this article we will characterize the nitride layers that are generated by different nitriding processes and compare their respective wear characteristics.
Most steel gear applications require appreciable loads to be applied that will result in high bending and compressive stresses. For the material (steel) to meet these performance criteria, the gear must be heat treated. Associated with this thermal processing is distortion. To control the distortion and achieve repeatable dimensional tolerances, the gear will be constrained during the quenching cycle of the heat treatment process. This type of fixture quenching is the function of gear quench pressing equipment.
In the typical gear production facility, machining of gear teeth is followed by hear treatment to harden them. The hardening process often distorts the gear teeth, resulting in reduced and generally variable quality. Heat treating gears can involve many different types of operations, which all have the common purpose of producing a microstructure with certain optimum properties. Dual frequency induction hardening grew from the need to reduce cost while improving the accuracy (minimizing the distortion) of two selective hardening processes: single tooth induction and selective carburizing.
For heat treatment of tool and alloy steels, the end-user has a wide range of basic types of heat treating equipment to choose from. This article reviews them and details the criteria that must be considered in selecting equipment for a specific application. In making this choice, the most important criterion must be the quality of the tool or part after processing.
Heat Treating - The evil twin of the gear processing family. Heat treating and post-heat treating corrective processes can run up to 50% or more of the total gear manufacturing cost, so it's easy to see why, in these days when "lean and mean" production is the rage, and every part of the manufacturing process is under intense scrutiny, some of the harshest light falls on heat treating.
Chicago- Results of recent studies on residual stress in gear hobbing, hobbing without lubricants and heat treating were reported by representatives of INFAC (Instrumented Factory for Gears) at an industry briefing in March of this year.
Ausforming, the plastic deformation of heat treatment steels in their metastable, austentic condition, was shown several decades ago to lead to quenched and tempered steels that were harder, tougher and more durable under fatigue-type loading than conventionally heat-treated steels. To circumvent the large forces required to ausform entire components such as gears, cams and bearings, the ausforming process imparts added mechanical strength and durability only to those contact surfaces that are critically loaded. The ausrolling process, as utilized for finishing the loaded surfaces of machine elements, imparts high quality surface texture and geometry control. The near-net-shape geometry and surface topography of the machine elements must be controlled to be compatible with the network dimensional finish and the rolling die design requirements (Ref. 1).
Precise heat treatment plays an essential role in the production of quality carburized gears. Seemingly minor changes in the heat treating process can have significant effects on the quality, expense and production time of a gear, as we will demonstrate using a case study from one of our customer's gears.
An overview of the latest technology and trends in heat treating.
This paper examines the expanding capabilities of induction hardening of gears through methods like spin hardening or tooth-by-tooth techniques.
Precision components (industrial bearing races and automotive gears) can distort during heat treatment due to effects of free or unconstrained oil quenching. However, press quenching can be used to minimize these effects. This quenching method achieves the relatively stringent geometrical requirements stipulated by industrial manufacturing specifications. As performed on a wide variety of steel alloys, this specialized quenching technique is presented here, along with a case study showing the effects of prior thermal history on the distortion that is generated during press quenching.
The heat treatment processing of powder metal (PM) materials like Astaloy requires four steps -- de-waxing, HT sintering, carburizing and surface hardening -- which are usually achieved in dedicated, atmospheric furnaces for sintering and heat treat, respectively, leading to intermediate handling operations and repeated heating and cooling cycles. This paper presents the concept of the multi-purpose batch vacuum furnace, one that is able to realize all of these steps in one unique cycle. The multiple benefits brought by this technology are summarized here, the main goal being to use this technology to manufacture high-load transmission gears in PM materials.
New technology from Eldec/EMAG helps control the induction hardening process.
Heat treating is one of the most critical operations in the manufacture of quality gears. Everything can be done to perfection, but if the heat treating isn’t right, all of your hard work and efforts are wasted. We know how important it is for gear manufacturers to find the right heat treating service provider. That’s why we’ve compiled this Heat Treat Resource Guide -- the only directory of heat treat service providers that’s specific to the gear industry. The companies listed here are all interested in working with gear manufacturers, and many of them have specialties and capabilities that are uniquely suited to the types of products you manufacture.
Contact fatigue and bending fatigue are two main failure modes of steel gears, while surface pitting and spalling are two common contact fatigue failures -- caused by alternating subsurface shear stresses from the contact load between two gear mates. And when a gear is in service under cyclic load, concentrated bending stresses exist at the root fillet -- the main driver of bending fatigue failures. Induction hardening is becoming an increasingly popular response to these problems, due to its process consistency, reduced energy consumption, clean environment and improved product quality -- but not without issues of its own (irregular residual stresses and bending fatigue). Thus a new approach is proposed here that flexibly controls the magnitude of residual stress in the regions of root fillet and tooth flank by pre-heating prior to induction hardening. Using an external spur gear made of AISI 4340 as an example, this new concept/process is demonstrated using finite element modeling and DANTE commercial software.
In this special section, our editors have gathered recent news and information related to the heat treatment of gears. Here you’ll find a comprehensive assortment of news and upcoming events that will help you understand the various heat treatment processes available for gears and choose the best option for your projects, whether you heat treat in-house or send your gears to a commercial heat treating provider.
This issue, GT Extras brings you "Heat Treat and Induction Hardening of Industrial Gears," a treasure trove of heat treating related technical articles and a call for help in preparation for AGMA's 100th anniversary.
The complete Industry News section from the November/December 2014 issue.
Environmentally friendly, highly efficient and lasting a product's lifetime. With characteristics like this, Pulsed-Plasma Diffusion (PPD) technology from Oerlikon Balzers has established itself as an industry standard for the treatment of large automotive press tooling. Now the technology specialists are targeting new applications with this advanced process, offering an alternative to traditional hard-chrome processes.
What gear material is suitable for high-temperature (350 – 550 degree C), high-vacuum, clean-environment use?
Our special advertising section featuring exhibitors from Gear Expo and ASM Heat Treat 2013
Heat treat suppliers look to the gear industry and the upcoming combined Gear Expo/Heat Treat 2013 for new business.
Audits of the heat treating department are a vital part of any good quality program - either as part of a self-assessment or ISO program for a captive shop or - of equal importance - as part of an evaluation of the capabilities of a commercial heat treat supplier. In either case, the audit process needs to be formal in nature and follow specific guidelines.
Interviews with exhibitors at ASM's Heat Treat 2013 exposition, which is co-located with Gear Expo.
Your guide to the booths at ASM's Heat Treat 2013 show.
The complete Industry News section from the October 2013 issue of Gear Technology.
Acetylene with DMF solvent enables benefits of low-pressure vacuum carburizing.
"God is in the details," says the philosopher. What he meant was that on the scale of the universe, it's not just the galaxies, the planets, the mountain ranges, or the major rivers that are important. So are the subatomic particles and the genes. It's the little things that make all the difference.
A carburized alloy steel gear has the greatest load-carrying capacity, but only if it is heat treated properly. For high quality carburizing, the case depth, case microstructure, and case hardness must be controlled carefully.
Dana Corp. is developing a process that carburizes a straight bevel gear to a carbon content of 0.8% in 60 fewer minutes than atmosphere carburizing did with an identical straight bevel.
Heat treating is a vital step in the gear making process—that’s a given. But how that step is taken can happen in a number of ways.
This paper introduces new process developments in low-pressure carburizing and carbonitriding using either high-pressure gas quenching or interrupted gas quenching.
A study was conducted to isolate the influence of pre-rough machine processing on final dimensional distortion.
Heat treating and quenching are arguably the most critical operations in the manufacture of gears. This article examines causes of distortion in heat treating and quenching.
ALD-Holcroft Vacuum Technologies Co. will host a two-day technical symposium at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan September 23– 24, 2008.
This article covers preventive maintenance and modification to machinery to induction harden different types of gear.
The latest heat treating news from March/April 2005
Gear making and heat treating pair together like a fine cabernet and filet mignon. Now for the first time, the two industries are embracing this symbiotic relationship by co-locating their industry events this fall in Indianapolis. ASM International’s 2009 Heat Treating Society Conference and Exposition and Gear Technology’s favorite trade show, Gear Expo, are teaming up September 14–17 at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis.
News from around the world about heat treating.
Before the optimum mechanical' properties can be selected, the working stress must be determined, based on recommended allowable stresses.
Bob McCulley of Comprehensive Heat Treat Specialists describes how even the most energy intensive industrial processes can be made "green."
Often, the required hardness qualities of parts manufactured from steel can only be obtained through suitable heat treatment. In transmission manufacturing, the case hardening process is commonly used to produce parts with a hard and wear-resistant surface and an adequate toughness in the core. A tremendous potential for rationalization, which is only partially used, becomes available if the treatment time of the case hardening process is reduced. Low pressure carburizing (LPC) offers a reduction of treatment time in comparison to conventional gas carburizing because of the high carbon mass flow inherent to the process (Ref. 1).
Part I, which was published in the September/October 2008 issue, covered gear materials, desired microstructure, coil design and tooth-by-tooth induction hardening. Part II covers spin hardening and various heating concepts used with it.
Gear designs are evolving at an ever accelerating rate, and gear manufacturers need to better understand how the choice of materials and heat treating methods can optimize mechanical properties, balance overall cost and extend service life.
High demands for cost-effectiveness and improved product quality can be achieved via a new low pressure carburizing process with high pressure gas quenching. Up to 50% of the heat treatment time can be saved. Furthermore, the distortion of the gear parts could be reduced because of gas quenching, and grinding costs could be saved. This article gives an overview of the principles of the process technology and the required furnace technology. Also, some examples of practical applications are presented.
Austempering heat treatments (austenitizing followed by rapid cooling to the tempering temperature) have been applied to nodular irons on an experimental basis for a number of years, but commercial interest in the process has only recently come to the surface.
The proper control of distortion after thermal treatment of powertrain components in the automotive industry is an important measure in ensuring high-quality parts and minimizing subsequent hard machining processes in order to reduce overall production costs.
Heat treatment industry reinforces environmental/energy conservation.
Plane strain fracture toughness of twelve high-carbon steels has been evaluated to study the influence of alloying elements, carbon content and retained austenite. The steels were especially designed to simulate the carburized case microstructure of commonly used automotive type gear steels. Results show that a small variation in carbon can influence the K IC significantly. The beneficial effect of retained austenite depends both on its amount and distribution. The alloy effect, particularly nickel, becomes significant only after the alloy content exceeds a minimum amount. Small amounts of boron also appear beneficial.
The manufacturing process to produce a gear essentially consist of: material selection, blank preshaping, tooth shaping, heat treatment, and final shaping. Only by carefully integrating of the various operations into a complete manufacturing system can an optimum gear be obtained. The final application of the gear will determine what strength characteristics will be required which subsequently determine the material and heat treatments.
Induction hardening is widely used in both the automotive and aerospace gear industries to minimize heat treat distortion and obtain favorable compressive residual stresses for improved fatigue performance. The heating process during induction hardening has a significant effect on the quality of the heat-treated parts. However, the quenching process often receives less attention even though it is equally important.
A widespread weakness of gear drawings is the requirements called out for carburize heat treating operations. The use of heat treating specifications is a recommended solution to this problem. First of all, these specifications guide the designer to a proper callout. Secondly, they insure that certain metallurgical characteristics, and even to some extent processing, will be obtained to provide the required qualities in the hardened gear. A suggested structure of carburizing specifications is give.
Carburized and hardened gears have optimum load-carrying capability. There are many alternative ways to produce a hard case on the gear surface. Also, selective direct hardening has some advantages in its ability to be used in the production line, and it is claimed that performance results equivalent to a carburized gear can be obtained. This article examines the alternative ways of carburizing, nitriding, and selective direct hardening, considering equipment, comparative costs, and other factors. The objective must be to obtain the desired quality at the lowest cost.
Durability is the most important criterion used to define the quality of a gear. The freezing of metals has been acknowledged for almost thirty years as an effective method for increasing durability, or "wear life," and decreasing residual stress in tool steels. The recent field of deep cryogenics (below -300 degrees F) has brought us high temperature superconductors, the superconducting super collider, cryo-biology, and magnotehydrodynamic drive systems. It has also brought many additional durability benefits to metals.
In a very general sense, increasing the hardness of a steel gear increases the strength of the gear. However, for each process there is a limit to its effectiveness. This article contains background information on each of the processes covered. In each section what is desired and what is achievable is discussed. Typical processes are presented along with comments on variables which affect the result. By reviewing the capabilities and processes, it is possible to determine the limits to each process.
The large gears found in mining, steel, construction, off-road, marine and energy applications—massive and robust in nature—need to tackle the greatest production demands. This, in turn, means that a special emphasis must be put on the heat treating methods used to increase the wear resistance and strength properties of gears this size.
The October 2011 issue of Gear Technology featured the article “Low-Distortion Heat Treatment of Transmission Components,” which covered the combination of low-pressure carburizing and high pressure gas quenching in an automotive environment. Here, heat treating expert Dan Herring explains why oil quenching is an appropriate choice for many applications.
Heat treat alternative offers advantages over conventional methods.
Induction hardening is a heat treating technique that can be used to selectively harden portions of a gear, such as the flanks, roots and tips of teeth, providing improved hardness, wear resistance, and contact fatigue strength without affecting the metallurgy of the core and other parts of the component that don’t require change. This article provides an overview of the process and special considerations for heat treating gears. Part I covers gear materials, desired microsctructure, coil design and tooth-by-tooth induction hardening.
Open any heat treating journal today and you’re certain to find multiple references (articles, technical papers and/or advertisements) promoting low-pressure carburizing (LPC). The uninformed might breeze by these references thinking it’s the next flash-in-the-pan, but unlike in the past, this time the process has legs.
In recent years, there has been significant interest in expanding the use of induction hardening in gear manufacturing operations. Over the past several years, many of the limits to induction hardening have shrunk, thanks to recent advances in technology, materials and processing techniques.
Co-located ASM and AGMA shows are a hot ticket.
This paper presents how low pressure carburizing and high pressure gas quenching processes are successfully applied on internal ring gears for a six-speed automatic transmission. The specific challenge in the heat treat process was to reduce distortion in such a way that subsequent machining operations are entirely eliminated.
Here are some of the new products and technologies available to attendees at Heat Treat 2011.
Map and listings to the ASM Heat Treating Society Conference and Exposition, which is co-located with this year's Gear Expo.
News from around the Gear Industry
The complete Industry News section from the August 2014 issue of Gear Technology.
News Items About Advanced Heat Treat
1 Advanced Heat Treat Installing $1.5 Million Large Capacity Ion Nitriding Vessel (January 4, 2007)
Advanced Heat Treat Corp. is installing one of the world's largest ion nitriding vessels in their new Cullman, AL service center, cur... Read News