Induction hardening is becoming an increasingly popular alternative to thermochemical diffusion processes such as carburizing, and as it does so, manufacturers are on a never-ending quest to expand the scope of
what's possible with the technology.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The tooth-by-tooth, submerged induction hardening process for gear tooth surface hardening has been successfully performed at David Brown for more than 30 years. That experience - backed up by in-depth research and development - has given David Brown engineers a much greater understanding of, and confidence in, the results obtainable from the process. Also, field experience and refinement of gear design and manufacturing procedures to accommodate the induction hardening process now ensure that gears so treated are of guaranteed quality.