The Positive and Negative Impacts of Carburization on Metals

06 July 2021

The general properties of metal materials allow them to undergo numerous processes. These processes can help modify and even improve their core properties so that they can be useful for a lot of industries.

One of the processes that can be done on metals is carburization. Carburization is a process that hardens the exterior of metals by diffusing carbon atoms into their surface and other workable layers. Metals that undergo carburization often have low tensile strength and hardness, preventing them from withstanding wear and tear after prolonged use. Through carburization, their strength and hardness are expected to improve given the integration of carbon to the metals.

An Overview of Carburization

Carburization, as previously stated, entails the hardening of metal workpieces through diffusing carbon atoms into their surface and other possible layers of the materials. Before the process is conducted, the surface and other parts that will be diffused with atoms will be cleaned first to remove any contaminants. During the process, the metal workpiece is heated in an environment filled with carbon-rich solids, liquids, or gases. Over time, these carbon sources will decompose, allowing the carbon atoms to be liberated and subsequently diffused into the metal workpiece.

The duration of the process typically depends on the temperature of the heating. It is also affected by the carbon potential of the workpiece. Ferrous metals can fully maximise the effects of carburization, particularly those that are comprised of low carbon.

Aside from obtaining better strength and hardness, carburization allows metal workpieces to attain better corrosion resistance, improved fatigue strength and mechanical strength, remarkable toughness, respectable wear resistance, and relieved internal stresses.

Positive and Negative Impacts

The process of carburization, as expected, can bring tons of positive impacts to the processed metal workpieces. As stated earlier, the process allows metal materials to develop hardened layers, improving their mechanical strength, fatigue strength, toughness, wear resistance, durability, corrosion resistance, ductility, and surface hardness. With the improvements over these qualities, metal workpieces that undergo carburization are projected to last for a long time.

The depth of the hardened layers or cases may be altered based on the applications of the metal materials. Metal workpieces that must be replaced all the time may have a shallow hardened case, while those that must sustain shock loads or crushing loads may benefit from higher case depths.

But just like other processes, carburization may also have some negative impacts or limitations. For metal workpieces that are asymmetrical, the application of carburization to these materials may lead to stress build-up and cracking due to the cooling rate differential. These things may also happen if the process is done with nonuniform materials. Aside from these effects, carburization can also yield expensive machining costs due to the consistent changes in dimensions, shapes, and distortions during the process.

To know more about carburization, feel free to give us a call at Alpha Detroit Heat Treatment.

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