The optimum carburized and hardened case depth for each gear failure mode is different and must be defined at different locations on the gear tooth. Current gear rating standards do not fully explain the different failure modes and do not clearly define the different locations that must be considered.
Effective case depth is an important factor and goal in gas carburizing, involving complicated procedures in the furnace and requiring precise control of many thermal parameters. Based upon diffusion theory and years of carburizing experience, this
paper calculates the effective case depth governed by carburizing temperature, time, carbon content of steel, and carbon potential of atmosphere. In light of this analysis,
carburizing factors at various temperatures and carbon potentials for steels with different
carbon content were calculated to determine the necessary carburizing cycle time.
This methodology provides simple (without computer simulation) and practical guidance
of optimized gas carburizing and has been applied to plant production. It shows that measured, effective case depth of gear parts covering most of the industrial application range (0.020 inch to over 0.250 inch) was in good agreement with the calculation.
In his Handbook of Gear Design (Ref.1), Dudley states (or understates): "The best gear people around the world are now coming to realize that metallurgical quality is just as important as geometric quality." Geometric accuracy without metallurgical integrity in any highly stressed gear or shaft would only result in wasted effort for all concerned - the gear designer, the manufacturer, and the customer - as the component's life cycle would be prematurely cut short. A carburized automotive gear or shaft with the wrong surface hardness, case depth or core hardness may not even complete its basic warranty period before failing totally at considerable expense and loss of prestige for the producer and the customer. The unexpected early failure of a large industrial gear or shaft in a coal mine or mill could result in lost production and income while the machine is down since replacement components may not be readily available. Fortunately, this scenario is not common. Most reputable gear and shaft manufacturers around the world would never neglect the metallurgical quality of their products.
With the publishing of various ISO draft standards relating to gear rating procedures, there has been much discussion in technical papers concerning the various load modification factors. One of the most basic of parameters affecting the
rating of gears, namely the endurance limit for either contact or bending stress, has not, however, attracted a great deal of attention.