The Influence of Heat Treat Process and Alloy on the Surface Microstructure and Fatigue Strength of Carburized Alloy Steel
Gas carburized and quenched low alloy steels typically produce surface microstructures which contain martensite, retained austenite and often NMTP's (non-martensitic transformation products). The NMTP's are caused by a reduction of surface hardenability in the carburizing process from loss of alloying elements to oxidation. Gas carburized low alloy steels such as SAE 8620 with NMTP's on the surface have been shown to have inferior bending fatigue properties when compared to more highly alloyed steels which do not form NMTP's, such as SAE 4615M. One method of minimizing the formation of oxides and eliminating NMTP formation during carburizing and quenching is to use plasma carburizing instead of conventional gas carburizing. In this study the microstructures and bending fatigue performance of plasma carburized SAE 8620 and SAE 4615M is compared to the same alloys conventionally gas carburized and quenched.