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Relationship between quenching process, hardness depth and quench defects in steels


Quenching is the most critical stage in the heat treating of steels for it determines both the metallurgical quality of the part and the existence of defects (cracks, distortion, residual stresses). The usual way of choosing the quenching technique is the result of a compromise between a good hardness depth and the absence of defects. Analysis of the effects of cooling processes on i) the transformations of steel and ii) the mechanism of formation of internal stresses, clearly shows that these two phenomena are situated in different temperature ranges. Fast cooling rates are obtained with vaporizable quenching media (water, aqueous solutions, oils); it is therefore possible to fit the cooling curve of a part by controlling the vaporization process of the quenching medium. As a result of these considerations, heat treatment processes have been developed which allow an increase of hardness and a decrease in quench defects. It is then possible to use advantageously low alloy steels. Examples of how these concepts hgave been used to solve production problems, in the treatment of carbonitrided parts and springs, are given.

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Moreaux, F., Simon, A. & Beck, G. Relationship between quenching process, hardness depth and quench defects in steels. J. Heat Treating 1, 50–56 (1980).

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