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Corus Engineering Steels' formula for its new gear steels: Maintain achievable hardness while using fewer alloys, thereby cutting steel costs for gear manufacturers.
This is part II of a two-part paper that presents the results of extensive test programs on the RCF strength of PM steels.
Much of the existing guidelines for making large, high-performance gears for wind turbine gearboxes exhibit a need for improvement. Consider: the large grinding stock used to compensate for heat treatment distortion can significantly reduce manufacturing productivity; and, materials and manufacturing processes are two other promising avenues to improvement. The work presented here investigates quenchable alloy steels that, combined with specifically developed Case-hardening and heat treatment processes, exhibits reduced distortion and, in turn, requires a smaller grinding stock.
QuesTek Innovations LLC is applying its Materials by Design computational design technology to develop a new class of high-strength, secondary hardening gear steels that are optimized for high-temperature, low-pressure (i.e., vacuum) carburization. The new alloys offer three different levels of case hardness (with the ability to “dial-in” hardness profiles, including exceptionally high case hardness), and their high core strength, toughness and other properties offer the potential to reduce drivetrain weight or increase power density relative to incumbent alloys such as AISI 9310 or Pyrowear Alloy 53.
The selection of the proper steel for a given gear application is dependent on many factors. This paper discusses the many aspects related to material, design, manufacture, and application variables. The results of several studies on the optimization of alloy design for gas- and plasma- carburization processing and reviewed.
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).
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.
This study quantified the performance of a new alloy and has provided guidance for the design and development of next-generation gear steels.
The approximate tensile strength of any steel is measured by its hardness, Table 1. Since hardness is determined by both chemical composition and heat treatment, these are the two important metallurgical considerations in selecting gear steels.