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Carburized helical gears with high retained austenite were tested for surface contact fatigue. The retained austenite before test was 60% and was associated with low hardness near the case's surface. However, the tested gears showed good pitting resistance, with fatigue strength greater than 1,380 MPa.
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.