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This paper addresses Austempered Ductile Iron (ADI) as an emerging Itechnology and defines its challenge by describing the state-of-the-art of incumbent materials. The writing is more philosophical in nature than technical and is presented to establish a perspective.
Austempered irons and steels offer the design engineer alternatives to conventional material/process combinations. Depending on the material and the application, austempering may provide the producers of gear and shafts with the following benefits: ease of manufacturing, increased bending and/or contact fatigue strength, better wear resistance or enhanced dampening characteristics resulting in lower noise. Austempered materials have been used to improve the performance of gears and shafts in many applications in a wide range of industries.
If someone were to tell you that he had a gear material that was stronger per pound than aluminum, as wear-resistant as steel, easier to machine than free-machining steel and capable of producing gears domestically for 20% less than those now cut from foreign made forgings, would you consider that material to be "high tech"? Probably. Well, throw out all the pre-conceived notions that you may have had about "high tech" materials. The high-performance material they didn't teach you about in school is austempered ductile iron (ADI).
Austempering heat treatments (austenitizing followed by rapid cooling to the tempering temperature) have been applied to nodular irons on an experimental basis for a number of years, but commercial interest in the process has only recently come to the surface.