Articles written in Bulletin of Materials Science
Volume 34 Issue 1 February 2011 pp 153-159
In this paper an effort has been made to plasma nitride the ball bearing steel AISI 52100. The difficulty with this specific steel is that its tempering temperature (∼170–200°C) is much lower than the standard processing temperature (∼460–580°C) needed for the plasma nitriding treatment. To understand the mechanism, effect of heat treatment on the nitrided layer steel is investigated. Experiments are performed on three different types of ball bearing races i.e. annealed, quenched and quench-tempered samples. Different gas compositions and process temperatures are maintained while nitriding these samples. In the quenched and quench-tempered samples, the surface hardness has decreased after plasma nitriding process. Plasma nitriding of annealed sample with argon and nitrogen gas mixture gives higher hardness in comparison to the hydrogen–nitrogen gas mixture. It is reported that the later heat treatment of the plasma nitrided annealed sample has shown improvement in the hardness of this steel. X-ray diffraction analysis shows that the dominant phases in the plasma nitrided annealed sample are 𝜀 (Fe2−3N) and 𝛾 (Fe4N), whereas in the plasma nitrided annealed sample with later heat treatment only 𝛼-Fe peak occurs.
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