Characteristic Study and Comparison of Different Hardening Methods on Low-Alloy Medium-Carbon Spring Steel

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1 Characteristic Study and Comparison of Different Hardening Methods on Low-Alloy Medium-Carbon Spring Steel Darshan Bhavesh Mehta Author, Department of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, Manipal Institute of Technology, Manipal, India S.S. Sharma Corresponding Author, Department of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering Manipal Institute of Technology, Manipal, India Gurumurthy. B.M Co-Author, Department of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, Manipal Institute of Technology, Manipal, India Kishan Bairy S Co-Author, Department of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, Manipal Institute of Technology, Manipal, India Eril Joy Dsouza Co-Author, Department of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering Manipal Institute of Technology, Manipal, India Antony Prajwal Mendonca Co-Author, Department of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering Manipal Institute of Technology, Manipal, India Abstract Heat treatment is an operation or combination of different operations involving heating and cooling of solid metal to alter its properties. In addition to other properties, the mechanical properties of steel decide its applicability for a particular condition. Heat treatment processes are commonly used to enhance the required properties of steel. The required property enhancement may be due to change in existing room temperature phase or chemical composition change with or without the phase changes or controlled phase transformation coupled with strain hardening induced by intentional mechanical deformation. The present work aims at experimentally investigating the effects of Conventional Hardening, Austempering and Martempering on AISI 4137 steel. AISI 4137 steel is low alloy, medium carbon spring steel. Experimental investigation shows that as bought steel is least hard, martempered and conventionally hardened steels are hardest. An increase in brittleness is observed with the increase in hardness, with the conventionally hardened specimen displaying the least impact strength Keywords: Austempering, Martempering, Brittleness, Impact strength, Hardness 1. INTRODUCTION Engineering properties are modified by heat treatment processes so that structural components are able to withstand specified operating conditions and have desired useful life. Heat treatment is the heating and cooling of metals in the solid state to change their physical and mechanical properties. Heat treatment could be said to be a method for strengthening materials but could also be used to alter some mechanical properties such as improving formability, machinability, etc. [1-2]. Hardening involves heating of steel, keeping it at an appropriate temperature until all pearlite is transformed into austenite, and then quenching it rapidly in air, water or oil [3-4]. The temperature at which austentizing takes place depends upon the carbon content in the steel used. The heating time should be increased ensuring that the core will also be fully transformed into austenite. The microstructure of a hardened steel part is martensite with or without proeutectoid carbides [5]. Tempering is almost always required after hardening to reduce the brittleness (increase toughness) to a desirable level. The expression quench and temper involves two heat treatment processes in sequence to incorporate toughness after hardening. To minimize the extent of stabilization of unwanted retained austenite formed during hardening, the specimen must be tempered quickly after quenching. Austempering and Martempering does involve secondary heat treatment, known as tempering [6]. Hardened steel is used to make metal objects that are subject to high levels of force or stress. For example, most automotive parts are made from this material, particularly those used for trucking. Hand tools and drill bits often consist of this type of steel, as do many saws and shearing equipment s. This type of steel is not used for objects made in a metalworking lathe, as these machines require steel that is softer and easier to work with [7]. 1542

2 Alloy steels are designated by AISI four-digit numbers. They comprise different kinds of steels having composition exceeding the limitations of B, C, Mn, Mo, Ni, Si, Cr, and V set for carbon steels. AISI 4137 alloy steel is a heat treatable and low alloy steel containing multiple alloying elements in small proportions. It has high toughness and strength in the heat treated condition and used as axle shafts, crank shafts, gears, connecting rods and fasteners. AISI 4137 alloy steel is heat treated at 830 C followed by quenching in oil. 2. EXPERMENTAL DETAILS 2.1 Heat Treatment Process: The respective test samples are prepared from 16mm diameter of the as-bought bar. The chemical composition of the bar is investigated by Spectrometric analysis. Samples are prepared as per ASTM A370 standards in the machine shop. A total of 12 numbers of specimens are made. Four specimens are subjected to conventional hardening that is they are heated to the temperature of 900 C in laboratory atmosphere in a laboratory muffle furnace for 2 hours so that the specimens get properly austenized. After soaking it for 2 hours the specimens are quenched in a waste motor oil such that the cooling rate is faster than the Critical Cooling Rate (CRR). The next four specimens are subjected to austempering in a salt bath prepared by taking 40% NaNO3 and 60 % NaNO2 salts. The objective behind using NaNO3 and NaNO2 is though the individual melting points are high the mixture of these salts in the bath with this proportion forms a eutectic mixture and this eutectic reaction brings down the melting point of the mixture to 250 C. The salt remains in the liquid state in the temperature range of C with increased fluidity. The salt mixture was maintained at 360 C. The specimens are properly austenitized at 900 C for 2 hours then they are transferred from the muffle furnace immediately to the salt bath maintained at C.The specimens are kept in the salt bath for 30 minutes so that complete bainite transformation takes place. Now the specimen is removed from salt bath followed by cooling in air. The last four specimens are subjected to martempering that is they are properly austenitized at 900 C for 2 hours then they are transferred from the muffle furnace immediately to the above mentioned salt bath maintained at 360 C.The specimens are kept in the salt bath for 3-4 seconds to attain 360 C constant temperature throughout followed by air quenching. This condition makes the specimen to harden without bainite formation with minimal thermal effect. Three readings each for hardness test, tensile test and impact test are noted per specimen in each condition. The average of two consistent or closer readings is considered as the test result. Table 1: The spectrometric chemical analysis of AISI 4137 steel Element Content Carbon, C % Chromium, Cr 1.01 % Manganese, Mn 0.77 % Molybdenum, Mo 0.22 % Phosphorous, P % Silicon, Si % Sulphur, S % 2.1 Tensile Test Specimen Preparation: CNC code is written and uploaded in the CNC turning machine. A rod of diameter 16mm is clamped into the chuck of the CNC and 40 mm length of the rod is protruded from the chuck. The operating parameters are defined and the machine is started to carry out the machining operation and finished specimens are prepared as per the requirement Methodology: The tensile test is carried out using an electronic tensometer with 20.05kN load cell and cross head speed of 3mm/min. Test is performed as per ASTM standards and the Load vs. Displacement graph obtained is analyzed for Ultimate stress, Fracture stress, Percentage Peak displacement and Percentage Break displacement. Figure 1: Standard Tensile Test Specimen (All dimension in mm) Figure 2: Prepared specimens 2.2 Impact Test Specimen Preparation: The as bought ¾ inch diameter AISI 4137 rod is cut into 80 mm pieces using band saw. Facing is done to reduce the length to 75mm. Drilling is performed at one end in order to hold the work piece in the lathe tail stock. The dimension is reduced to 14.14mm by turning. Shaping is carried out to obtain 10x10 mm square cross section. V notch is cut on the square work piece using standard shaper. 1543

3 2.2.2 Methodology: The prepared specimens are placed in the impact tester holder. It is placed in the cantilever position and the pendulum was lifted and then released to transfer impact energy to the specimen. The reading of the machine shows the amount of energy absorbed by the specimen before failure. Three readings are recorded. The average of two consistent or closer readings is considered as the test result. Figure 5: Standard hardness specimen (All dimensions are in mm) Figure 3: Standard Impact test specimen (All dimensions are in mm) Figure 6: Brinell hardness Test specimen Figure 4: Izod Test Specimens 2.3 Hardness Test Specimen Preparation: Rod is cut into 25 mm pieces using band saw. Facing is done to obtain smooth surface and length is reduced to 20mm. Grinding and polishing are also carried out to obtain mirror like finish on the surface Methodology: The specimen is placed on the Brinell hardness testing fixture. Micro-indentation is made on the surface of the specimen by applying 750 kg and using 5 mm diameter ball. Using the eye piece, the length of the diagonals of the indentation is noted down. Using the lengths of the diagonals Brinell hardness number is found out from a chart which has BHN corresponding to the diameter of the indentation. 3 trials were performed and the average value of the two closer reading was documented as the hardness value of AISI 4137 steel. 2.4 Microstructural Analysis First cylindrical specimens having an even cross-section are polished on a FAB-KER belt surface polishing machine, followed by finishing using emery paper of fine grades. Further, the sample is lapped to give it a mirror like finish, using a METATECH double disc polishing machine with alumina paste as wet abrasive. The specimen surface is etched with a layer of NITAL (solution of alcohol and nitric acid) to expand the microstructural details by preferential chemical attack. 3. RESULTS AND DISCUSSION 3.1 Effect of Heat Treatment on Mechanical Properties: The load vs. displacement graph of as bought and austempering condition shows similar trend. The universal tensile strength of austempering is higher than as bought condition. The fracture and ultimate load are different in both cases, shows the ability of the, metal to undergo necking before failure. In martempered and conventionally hardened the yield point, ultimate tensile strength and fracture stress are same with higher ultimate tensile strength in conventional hardened treatment. As bought and austempered specimen show higher ductility and marginal improvement in ductility 1544

4 is seen in austempered and as bought conditions. This is due to the formation of tough bainite structure in austempering treatment. In brief, the tensile test shows that as bought and Austempered specimen shows ductile nature while specimen undergone conventional hardening and martempering shows brittle nature. Figure7: Load vs. Elongation Plot (As Bought Condition) Figure 9: Load vs. Elongation Plot (Martempering Condition) Figure 8: Load vs. Elongation Plot (Conventional Hardening Condition) Figure 10: Load vs. Elongation Plot (Austempering Condition) 1545

5 From the graph it can be seen that conventional hardened specimen had the least impact strength. This is due to the presence of martensitic structure. Martempered specimen had better impact strength due to air cooling during martensite formation. After quenching in the salt bath at C for 3-4 seconds followed by air cooling provides least thermal residual stresses as slope of transformation curve is very small in the T TT diagram. The impact test really displays the ability of austempered steel to withstand impact load. Lower bianite structure is not only but equally tough. This is also reflected from the tensile test. Figure 11: Comparison of Ultimate Tensile Strength Figure 12: Comparison of Percentage Break Displacement Figure 15: Comparison of Impact Test Result Figure 13: Comparison of Fracture Stress Figure 14: Comparison of Percentage Peak Displacement 3.1 Effect of Heat Treatment on Hardness: From the graph it can be observed that As-Bought specimen had the least hardness followed by Austempered steel. Austempered had a lower hardness due to the presence of soft Bainitic structure. The hardness of Martempered and Conventionally hardened specimen were almost the same and the highest among the different condition. This high hardness is due to the presence of Martensite structure in both the cases. 3.2 Effect of Heat Treatment on Microstructure: The specimen was placed on the microscope holder. Magnification was set to 200X. Using Envision 5.0 software, the image was generated. The image was focused and the best image was captured. As bought specimen shows pro-eutectoid ferrite and pearlite phases. Microstructure confirms that the as-bought specimen is air cooled. There is no continuous network of pro-eutectoid ferrite along the grain boundaries. Austempered structure seems to be single phases because at such magnification the constituents of bainite may not be identified. The conventionally hardened and martempered structure pattern is the typical martensite phase which is band like. Actually austempered also shows similar to martempered one. There is lot of similarity between bainitic and martensitic transformation. 1546

6 structure. The Conventional hardened specimen had the least impact strength. This is due to the formation of martensitic structure. Austempered specimen had the highest impact strength due to the formation of bainite. M microstructure indicates the formation of band like martensite structure on conventionally hardened and Martempered specimen and needle like bainitic structure on Austempering. Tensile test indicates that Austempered specimen shows ductile nature failure. Martempered & Conventionally Hardened specimen shows brittle nature due to the formation of brittle martensitic structure. Figure 17: Specimen in As bought condition under 200X magnification Figure 19: Specimen in Martempered condition under 200X magnification REFERENCES: [1] ASM Metals Handbook, Volume 4, (1991), P-25 [2] S. Jyothirmai, I. Aparna Devi, I.Sudhakar and R. Ramesh, (2014) Hardness Prediction Model for En Grade Steels Subjected to Different Heat Treatment Processes, Advanced Materials Manufacturing & Characterization Vol 4 Issue [3] Ali RafaAltaweel, M ajid Tolouei-Rad, (2014) Effect Of Quenching Media, Specimen Size And Shape On the Hardenability Of AISI 4140 Steel, Emirates Journal for Engineering Research 19 (2), [4] G. J. Janz, Ursula Kreba, H. F. Siegenthaler and R. P.T. Tamkins, Molten Salts: Volume 3, Nitrates, Nitrites, and M ixtures, Molten Salt Data Centre Department of Chemistry Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy N.Y [5] N.V Diwakar, C. Bhagyanathan and J. David Rathnaraj, (2014) Analysis of Mechanical Properties of En19 Steel and En41b Steel Used In Diesel Engine Camshaft, International Journal of Current Engineering and Technology. [6] C. Escobar, J. C. Caicedo, W. Aperador, A. Delgado, P. Prieto, (2013) Improve on Corrosion Resistant Surface for AISI 4140 Steel Coated with VN and HfN Single Layer Films, International Journal of Electrochemical Science. [7] Amol N. Varade, Kamlesh P. Kadia, (2015) An Investigation of Temperature, Surface Roughness And Material Removal Rate During Hard Turning of EN19 Material, International Journal for Innovative Research in Science & Technology Volume 1 Issue 8 Figure 20: Specimen in Austempered condition under 200X magnification The steel responds positively for all the above mentioned heat treatment as expected. However, the following conclusion may be derived from the experimental work. As bought condition, the hardness was found to be lesser than the heat treated specimens. Conventional hardened and Martempered had the highest hardness due to the formation of martensite 1547

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