Some years back, most spiral bevel gear sets were produced as cut, case hardened, and lapped. The case hardening process most frequently used was and is case carburizing. Many large gears were flame hardened, nitrided, or through hardened (hardness around 300 BHN) using medium carbon alloy steels, such as 4140, to avoid higher distortions related to the carburizing and hardening process.
The higher load carrying capacities, compact dimensions and longer life of hardened gears is an accepted fact in industry today. However, the costs involved in case hardening and subsequent finishing operations to achieve these advantages are considerable. For example, in order to achieve desired running properties on larger gears, it has been necessary to grind the tooth flanks. This costly operation can now be replaced, in many cases, by a new Hard Cutting (HC)
process which permits the cutting of hardened gears while maintaining extremely low tooling costs.