Effects of Silicon and Boron Additions on the Susceptibility to Quench Embrittlement and the Bending Fatigue Performance of Vacuum Carburized Modified 4320 Steel
The effect of B and Si additions on fracture and fatigue performance of vacuum carburized 4320 steel and modifications of 4320 steel containing additions of Si (1.0 and 2.0 wt pct) and B (0 and 17 ppm) was evaluated by bending fatigue testing. Three rates of gas quenching, in 10 bar nitrogen and 15 and 20 bar helium, were used to cool specimens after carburizing. The B, protected by Ti additions, together with the Si additions, increased core hardenability. The B/Si modified steels showed no improvement in fatigue resistance, as measured by endurance limits established by 10 million cycle runouts without fracture. However, scanning electron microscopy showed that Si reduced sensitivity to intergranular fracture or quench embrittlement, a major cause of bending fatigue crack initiation, and contributed to variable fatigue performance, with both low-cycle failures and runout performance at applied stresses significantly above measured endurance limits.