If you’ve ever needed metal that has a high surface hardness and is resistant to wear, you may have considered having the metal carburized. Carburization is one of the most common heat treating practices to provide surface hardening. It is also known as case hardening; this name comes from the result of carburizing, which is a strong, wear-resistant casing that acts as an outer layer to a strong core of the metal.
Heat treatments are not always easy to understand, though. If you’ve considered carburizing but weren’t sure what it entailed or what the results might be, we are here to help! We at J.F. Heat Treating Inc. have created a need-to-know guide for carburizing in Gastonia, NC to help you in making your heat treating decisions.
What is carburizing?
First, you may be wondering what carburizing actually is. In short, carburizing is the process of adding carbon to the surface of low-carbon steel at high temperatures. This process results in a hard, wear-resistant outer casing around the metal.
Steels with less than 0.25 percent carbon content are typically carburized to increase their hardness. The inner layer of the steel remains softer, with a lower carbon content, than the much stronger outer layer.
How it’s done
One of the most popular methods of carburizing in Gastonia, NC is gas carburizing. This method utilizes heat and carbon monoxide gas to input carbon molecules into the steel’s surface.
During the process of carburizing, the metal to be treated will be heated in a pit furnace or sealed atmosphere furnace. Carbon monoxide is then introduced and heated. The gas and steel components will remain in the chamber until the desired case depth is achieved.
After the heating process, the steel component is removed and either slow cooled to be hardened and quenched later, or is immediately quenched in oil. Quenching is the process of hardening the material. It is necessary to note that some size changes or distortion may occur during the carburization process because of microstructural changes while hardening. Machining may be requiring on some pieces to maintain the dimensions of the component.
There are also other types of carburizing processes that involve liquid carbon environments, solid, packed carbon environments or vacuum. Each of these utilizes a slightly different process, temperature and time limit.
After the carburizing process is complete, the steel will be left with a hard outer casing of a particular depth. The depth of the casing will depend on the temperature during the process, the time it spent in the chamber and the carbon potential of the initial steel. Certain applications will require specific casing depths.
Are you interested in what options you have for carburizing in Gastonia, NC? Contact J. F. Heat Treating Inc.! For over 35 years, we’ve offered a variety of heat treating services to soften, harden, relieve stress or remove contaminants from your metal parts and components. Using cutting-edge tools and equipment in our full-service metallurgical lab, we’ll be sure to meet all of your metal heat treating needs. Call us today!