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Most common heat treatment defects

FAULTS
Insufficient
hardness

CAUSES

REMEDIES

1) Decarburization

Sufficient machining stock (pre-existing


decarburization).
Heat the tools protected by appropriate antidecarburizing media or heat in a salt bath,
protective atmosphere, possibly in a vacuum
furnace.

2) Low hardening temperature or too fast,


uneven heating

Check the control instruments.


Where possible, anneal or repeat the
hardening treatment.

3) Insufficient soaking at hardening


temperature

The holding times at hardening temperature


refer to the condition in which the
temperature has been reached evenly
throughout the entire section (need for
preheating). Where possible, anneal and
repeat the hardening treatment.

4) Cooling rate:
a) unsuitable cooling medium for the
grade of steel;
b) insufficient cooling capacity, air not
sufficiently ventilated;

Check the prescriptions of the steel supplier.

c) parts covered by films that form


insulating layers.

Avoid formation of oxide, layers of steam


(soft areas).

The relationship between the volume of the


cooling medium and the tool must be at
least 5 : 1 with cooling recirculation. In the
case of cooling in air, increase ventilation.

5) Tempering temperature too high.

Anneal the tools and repeat the heat


treatment controlling the tempering
temperature.

Uneven hardness

6) Formation of bubbles of steam during


cooling pack hardened tools scale
patch decarburiz. imperfect cleaning
of the surfaces.

Stirring of the bath.


Appropriate dipping method.
Clean the parts thoroughly before heating.

Excess surface
hardness

7) During hardening heating, a


carburizing and embrittlement effect
occurs, surface cracks

Check the activity of the anti-decarburization


media (they must not be carburizing) and
of the inoculants of the salt bath or of the
protective atmospheres.

104

Most common heat treatment defects

FAULTS
Brittleness

Deformations

Fractures during
cooling

Fractures during
quenching cooling
(before tempering)

CAUSES

REMEDIES

8) Excessive hardness-insufficient
tempering.

Increase the temperature and tempering


holding time.

9) Overheating (coarse fracture and


bright grain).

Harden at lower temperature reduce


holding time at tempering temperature.

10) Uneven heating.

Preheat check furnace capacity.

11) Too fast cooling.


12) Part incorrectly supported in
furnace.

Change to step quenching reduce the


hardening temperature.
Check the supports if possible heat
vertically.

13) Incorrect dipping in quenching


bath.

Review method of dipping tools during


cooling.

14) Stresses present before heat


treatment.

Perform suitable stress relieving after rough


machining.

15) Uneven heating.

Preheat.

16) Too fast cooling.

Select the cooling medium according to the


shape of the tool and hardenability of the
steel.

17) Overheating.

Reduce the hardening temperature.

18) Incomplete transformations that


continue with the tool cold.

Temper immediately after hardening.

Retained austenite.
Keep the non-tempered part in
a cold environment.

Cracks after
tempering

19) Insertion of the tools in the furnace


without preheating for tempering.

106

Where possible, carry out a suitable


treatment to complete the transformation.

For tempering at high temperatures, preheat


the tools to 200 - 300 C