What kind of services does Euclid Heat Treating provide?
Euclid offers a diverse selection of heat treating processes. We perform many of the commonly found batch atmosphere processes such as neutral hardening, carburizing and carbonitriding, and ferritic nitro-carburizing. We also feature a wide range of vacuum hardening capabilities, gaseous nitriding, and an entire building dedicated to induction processing.
Out of all of the processes Euclid offers, which do you feel are of greatest benefit to gear manufacturers?
Batch carburizing and neutral hardening are popular. We used to be well known for tooth by tooth Induction hardening, but we got away from that business many years ago. We still have one of the most comprehensive induction departments around, but most gears we process are either O.D. or I.D. single shot or scanned.
Anything else that may be unusual or unique to Euclid?
Yes, there is a process that we feel is especially beneficial to the gear industry. Intensive quenching is a process Euclid began offering in 2004 in partnership with IQ Technologies Inc. of Akron, Ohio. The process utilizes very precisely-controlled water quenching to produce steel parts with superior mechanical properties and performance characteristics to those of conventionally processed parts.
A critical element of this process is that it produces high levels of residual surface compressive stress. For gears this is particularly important because residual surface compressive stress reduces the distortion common in conventional quenching, and it provides a significant improvement in fatigue life. Tests conducted on a batch of steel punching dies resulted in a 600% increase in the life of the punches, from a water quench.
Are there any other advantages this process provides besides Compressive Stress?
One of the most significant advantages of the IQ process is cost savings related to the cycle as well as potential savings in materials. IQ produces a highly refined grain structure and provides a greater effective case in proportion to the overall case. This means you can reduce cycle time and carburizing depth…cost savings. In many cases the higher cost alloys that are currently in use become unnecessary. This process is so effective at yielding improving mechanical properties of certain steels that, the alloying elements normally required to produce a given characteristic with oil quenching are not needed in the same quantities. In fact, the process actually tends to favor lower alloy materials.
It sounds like this process has a lot of promise. Is there any downside?
Acceptance has been growing slowly in the U.S. but it has generated significant interest in Europe and Asia. In the U.S. we face a few challenges associated with the assumption that water quenching automatically results in cracked parts, which simply isn’t true. Uncontrolled water quenching will crack parts, and in some instances we’ve experienced cracking even with our controls. It is far less common though, and usually an indication of an opportunity to experiment with a more affordable, lower alloy material. Before you assume that lower alloy means lower quality, I should explain that we have achieved with IQ, results in low alloy materials that are comparable, or even superior to what higher alloy materials can achieve with a conventional quench. It can also be a tough sell because manufacturing paradigms don’t shift easily or quickly. Convincing an engineer to try a new material because that there is a more cost effective or longer lasting option, when the material his predecessor specified decades ago has worked just fine all along, is a serious challenge. And that’s assuming you can even reach the person who makes the decision.
There have been some recent discussion of Intergranular Corrosion and its relation to heat treat among other things. Does IQ have any impact on this?
IQ can actually reduce the risk of intergranular corrosion due in part to the fact that it affords a reduction in carburizing cycle time by as much 30-40%. Furthermore, the very unique method by which austenite transforms into martensite in IQ, produces a highly refined, primarily martensitic grain structure which contains comparatively little retained austenite. With the refined grain structure there is a reduced area for the formation of the oxides common to I.C. In IQ processes where a lower alloy material is preferable, intergranular corrosion becomes less of a concern because of the absence of certain alloying elements which are favored by this condition. Here again, a reduction in the alloy content yields an improvement in the result.
MORE INFORMATION: Visit www.euclidheattreating.com, or call (800) 962-2909.