Nitriding is a case hardening heat treatment process which runs at temperatures between 450 – 600 °C for steel. The aim of the process is to diffuse nitrogen into the substrate surface to form nitrides in combination with different alloying elements of the substrate and to form compound layers that have high wear resistance properties. A normal nitriding depth goes from 0,01 mm up to 0,7mm for which the nitriding time can be up to 100 hours, and can rise the hardness of the steel up to 1200 HV
Since nitriding changes the chemical composition of the surface of the substrate and the process is carried out at medium temperature, it is classified as a thermo chemical process. Although many different materials can be nitrided with the aid of new nitriding technologies, this paper will focus on nitriding of steel substrates.
At the temperature that the process is held, nitrogen diffusion occurs in the ferritic phase of the steel, thus, no phase transformation occurs during cooling of the substrate.
Avoiding a phase transformation of the bulk during the nitriding process offers a big advantage because it minimizes the distortions that arise from the normal carburizing and quenching heat treatment processes.
- High surface hardness and wear strength, together with reduced risk of galling.
- High resistance to tempering and high-temperature hardness.
- High fatigue strength and low fatigue notch sensitivity.
- Improved corrosion resistance for non stainless steel.
- High dimensional stability compared to other heat treatment processes.
Gas nitriding is a thermochemical surface treatment in which nitrogen is transferred from an ammonia atmosphere into the surface of steels at temperatures within the ferrite and carbide phase region. After nitriding, a compound layer and an underlying diffusion zone (i.e. case) are formed near the surface of the steel. The compound layer, also known as the white layer, consists predominantly of ε - Fe2-3- Fe4N phases and can greatly improve the wear and corrosion resistances. The hardened diffusion zone, which is composed of interstitial solid solution of nitrogen dissolved in the ferrite lattice and nitride and/or carbonitride precipitation for the alloy steels containing the nitrides forming elements, is responsible for a considerable enhancement of the fatigue endurance. Furthermore, being a low temperature process, nitriding minimizes the distortion and deformation of the heat treated parts. Therefore, nitriding is an important surface treatment for steels.
Stainless steels respond to nitriding differently than other ferrous alloys, and there are also significant differences within the stainless group as well. The primary reason for this is that depending on the chemistry of the steel it will behave differently with respect to the kinetics of layer formation, and it is a rather difficult process to control. In other words, unless you know what you are doing you may end up with nothing, or too little, or too much case depth or white layer, or even damaged parts.
NITREG®-S is a process in which any stainless steel may be nitrided, with complete control over the formation of nitrided layers.
Attains excellent wear resistance
- Improves fatigue strength
- Prevents galling
- Does not alter chemical composition of alloy
- Has no effect on the steel’s non-magnetic nature
- No change in the color, shape or size
- Uniformly hardened even small bores, tight grooves and sharp edges
- Green technology, no waste pollution
Plasma nitriding (Ion nitriding) is a plasma supported thermochemical case hardening process used to increase wear
In plasma nitriding, the reactivity of the nitriding media is not due to the temperature but to the gas ionized state. In this technique intense electric fields are used to generate ionized molecules of the gas around the surface to be nitrided. Such highly active gas with ionized molecules is called plasma, naming the technique.
Advantages of ion nitriding
Advantages of ion nitriding over ammonia nitriding are as follows:
- Shorter (by 20-50%) treatment cycle.
- Better process control and automation. The process parameters (pressure, voltage, temperature, gas flow, DC current) are easily controlled.
- Higher surface hardness may be achieved due to lower process temperature (up to 1200 HV).
- Better dimensional stability (lower distortions) due to lower process temperature and uniform heating.
- Lower energy consumption due to lower temperature and shorter treatment cycle.
- Reduced gas consumption.
- Safer operation.
- Lower environment pollution.
Ion nitriding is used for Case hardening of Alloy steels, Stainless steels, Titanium alloys.