Comparing Induction Hardening and Case Hardening

20 March 2018

On one side of this comparative guide, induction hardening technology employs a strong electromagnetic field as the heat treatment engine. On the other side, a similarly potent case hardening station is busily armouring the surface of a newly arrived workpiece. Both methods harden exterior surfaces. Case in point, flame hardening equipment is incredibly selective, but is this focused blaze more capable than an induction hardening station?

Aggressive Energies Catalyze Case Hardened Components 

On the fire and chemical side of things, a focused oxy-gas flare selectively surface hardens the teeth on a gear wheel. Further down that line, a gas carburizing furnace cooks a component while it simultaneously feeds a small percentage of carbon into the sealed heating enclosure. In short, these case hardening techniques employ furnaces and gases, plus a preordained quantity of surface armouring carbon. Induction hardening equipment is more, shall we say, production friendly, and here’s why.

Compared to Production-Friendly Induction Technology 

From the start, there are obvious benefits. The process doesn’t take place inside a sealed furnace, nor does it require a specially conditioned atmosphere. Look closer, look at the nature of this beast. It’s an electrical coil, a series of twisted conductors that induce a powerful magnetic field. As that field interacts with a nearby workpiece, heat is induced. That means this electrical equipment doesn’t touch the component while it’s being heat treated. Furthermore, the entire operation is finished in seconds. Incorporated as part of a production line, one that’s processing hundreds of vehicle axles, the entire project is repeatedly heat treated in hours, not days.

Comparing Case Hardening Benefits 

Geometrical profiles can stymy certain induction hardening stations. For example, that flame hardening equipment makes short work of a targeted project, perhaps one that accommodates the radial outlines of gear wheels. That circular induction unit, perfect for cylindrical extrusions, can’t exactly handle the radial teeth on a heavy gear. However, there are induction hardening rigs that do suit this rim-turning requirement. Mounted on an arm, a stationary induction hardening head quickly handles those rim protrusions. Still, that little case study does demonstrate a need for selecting the correct equipment form factor.

Meanwhile, furnace stations case harden all workpiece types, no matter their size or shape. However, it can take many hours to case harden a number of components in these cooking chambers. Induction hardening equipment, on the other hand, incorporates seamlessly into an existing component processing line. Finally, it takes great diffusion mastery to control the case hardening depth in those gas-delivered equipment lines. As for the induction hardening station, a change to the frequency controller will deepen the case hardening effect.

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