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Most common heat treatment defects

Insufficient hardness

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. Check the control instruments. Where possible, anneal or repeat the hardening treatment. 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.

2) Low hardening temperature or too fast, uneven heating 3) Insufficient soaking at hardening temperature

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. 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. Avoid formation of oxide, layers of steam (soft areas).

c) parts covered by films that form insulating layers.

5) Tempering temperature too high.

Anneal the tools and repeat the heat treatment controlling the tempering temperature. Stirring of the bath. Appropriate dipping method. Clean the parts thoroughly before heating.

Uneven hardness

6) Formation of bubbles of steam during cooling pack hardened tools scale patch decarburiz. imperfect cleaning of the surfaces. 7) During hardening heating, a carburizing and embrittlement effect occurs, surface cracks

Excess surface hardness

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.


Most common heat treatment defects


8) Excessive hardness-insufficient tempering. 9) Overheating (coarse fracture and bright grain).

Increase the temperature and tempering holding time. Harden at lower temperature reduce holding time at tempering temperature. Preheat check furnace capacity. Change to step quenching reduce the hardening temperature. Check the supports if possible heat vertically. Review method of dipping tools during cooling. Perform suitable stress relieving after rough machining. Preheat. Select the cooling medium according to the shape of the tool and hardenability of the steel. Reduce the hardening temperature. Temper immediately after hardening. Where possible, carry out a suitable treatment to complete the transformation.


10) Uneven heating. 11) Too fast cooling. 12) Part incorrectly supported in furnace. 13) Incorrect dipping in quenching bath. 14) Stresses present before heat treatment.

Fractures during cooling

15) Uneven heating. 16) Too fast cooling.

17) Overheating. Fractures during quenching cooling (before tempering) 18) Incomplete transformations that continue with the tool cold.
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.

For tempering at high temperatures, preheat the tools to 200 - 300 C