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Intensive Quenching - What is It

Intensive Quenching - What is It

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Published by Luigi Mazzucco

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Intensive quenching Part 1 – What is it?
L. C. F. Canale
1
, N. I. Kobasko
2
and G. E. Totten
*
3
Various intensive quenching processes have been reported since the 1920s. A historical overviewof these processes is given. Based on the limited information that has been published, it is likelythat many of these systems employed neither intensive quenching processing nor did theyproduce maximum surface compressive stresses. The objective of the present paper is to defineintensive quenching, explaining how it could be used and its processes and advantages.
Keywords:
Heat treatment, Hardening, Intensive quenching, Compressive, Surface residual stress
Introduction
Every metallurgist has been trained into thinking thatincreasing cooling rates, especially in the martensitictransformation region, leads to increasing potential forcracking.
1
However, since the 1920s, there have beenvarious, often little known industrial heat treatingprocesses which have been designated as intense,intensive, rapid, drastic, severe, or extreme quenchingor shell hardening methods.
2–8
Figure 1 illustrates theuniform hardened case obtained by ‘shell hardening’ acarbon steel shaft.
2
The essence of these methods is to harden lesshardenable steels using very fast cooling rates in orderto impart high compressive stresses and improved fatigueproperties to the quenched component.
8
Therefore, inview of the classical training received by metallurgists,why are these processes not accompanied by quenchcracking? In fact, what is intensive quenching?In 1964, Kobasko published the first of an extensiveseries of papers in which he used the term ‘intensivequenching’. His experimental data provided numericalevidence that although it is true that increasing coolingrates result in increasing propensity for cracking, ashistorically recognised, there does exist a criticalcooling rate above which cracking propensity decreases(Fig. 2).
9
Computer simulations were later used to validate andto develop design methodologies.
10,11
Figure 3 illus-trates the results of one such intensive quenchingsimulation performed and experimentally validated.
11
Note the uniform hardened case surrounding thecomponent and that the case depth is independent of the section size.In the present paper, an overview of the intensivequenching process is provided. This discussion willinclude the heat transfer criteria that define an intensivequenching process. The use of intensive quenching informing maximum surface compressive stresses will alsobe discussed here. Part 2 of the series will discuss ingreater detail the mechanism of residual stress formationduring intensive quenching.
Discussion
As a means of introducing the heat transfer mechanismof intensive quenching, it is helpful to envision animmersion quench of a simple cylindrical steel shape inwater. Figure 4 illustrates the three primary heattransfer cooling mechanisms occurring during conven-tional immersion cooling in water: full film boiling(vapour blanket cooling), nucleate boiling and convec-tive cooling.
12
Each of these cooling mechanisms, whichcoexist on the steel surface during the quenching pro-cess, is associated with very different heat transfer coef-ficients
a
for full film boiling
a
FB
5
100–250 W m
2
2
K
2
1
,for nucleate boiling
a
NB
5
10–20 kW m
2
2
K and forconvective cooling
a
CONV
5
,
700 W m
2
2
K. The simul-taneous presence and relative stability of these widelyvarying heat transfer conditions are a significant factorin influencing the non-uniform cooling and increasedstresses during a water quenching process.A series of patents published from 1967 to 1971
5–7
describe a quenching process designated as ‘extreme’or ‘drastic’. These processes utilised water or brineand pressurised tanks (accumulators or ‘bladders’)which delivered very high volumes of quenchant,
,
3000 gal min
2
1
, to selected surface areas of the partbeing quenched.Morio reported that the objective in drastic quenchingwas to quench the part using sufficiently high agitationrates to eliminate film boiling on the surface whichwould provide a more uniform quench. The ‘criticalcooling rate’ for this process (drastic quenching) was thecooling rate which is necessary to eliminate film boiling.The agitation rate/quench severity correlation used tocalculate the critical cooling rate was taken from thetraditional Grossmann quench severity data shown inTable 1 (Ref. 8). According to Morio,
8
the practicallimit for water quenching was
5
1.5–2.0, unless highpressure sprays were employed. Furthermore, it is
1
Universidade de Sa˜o Paulo, Sa˜o Carlos, SP, Brasil
2
Intensive Technologies Ltd. Kyiv, Ukraine
3
Associac¸a˜o Instituto Internacional de Pesquisa, Sa˜o Carlos, SP, BrasilPortland State University, Portland, OR, USA
*
Corresponding author, email GETotten@aol.com
ß
2007 IHTSE PartnershipPublished by Maney on behalf of the Partnership
30
International Heat Treatment and Surface Engineering 
2007
VOL
1
NO
1
DOI 10.1179/174951407X169196
 
impossible to tell what the agitation rate in a quenchtank is by visual observation, i.e. mild, moderate, good,etc. This is further complicated by the fact that quenchtank agitation is notoriously non-uniform.Intensive quenching differs from drastic or extremequenching, as defined in the literature, in that duringintensive quenching only convective cooling occurs.Thus heat transfer is limited by the thermal conductivityof the steel. Another definition of intensive quenching isa quenching process that produces ‘maximum surfacecompressive stresses’.
13
Mei has taken the approach reported by Morio evenfurther by stating that an agitation rate sufficient toprovide a Grossman quench severity value of 
.
6.0 isrequired to provide an intensive quenching process.
14
However, in addition to the limitations of the use of Grossman
-values, the approach reported by Mei isbased on trial and error experimentation.Heat transfer during quenching is described by theBiot number
Bi 
~
al
R
(1)where
a
is the heat transfer coefficient,
l
is the thermalconductivity of the metal and
R
is the radius of thecylinder, ball or half-thickness of a plate.This equation means that heat transfer is proportionaltosection size (thickness)of the metal beingquenched andthe heat transfer coefficient at the interface between thecooling metal and the quenchant is inversely proportionalto the thermal conductivity of the metal. To obtain highsurface compressive stresses in an intensive quenchingprocess, the Biot number must be
.
18.To more accurately relate the Biot number to size andshape, the generalised Biot criterion
Bi 
V
is calculated from
Bi 
V
~
al
L
~
al
(2)
1 Representation of 25 kg shaft that was shell hardened:surface compressive stresses were determined to be
.
1034 MPa2 Illustration of maximum cooling rate up to which pro-pensity for cracking of AISI 52100 bearing steelincreases; however, further increases in cooling ratesresult in corresponding decrease in propensity forcracking3 Illustration of computer simulation results of intensivequenching (IQ) through the cross-section of the com-ponent. (a) Room temperature before IQ (b)Austenitizing temperature (c) Initial cooling resulting intension stress (d,e,f and g) Continuous cooling result-ing in very high compressive stress when componentachieves room temperatureTable 1 Grossmann quench severity for various quenchmedia
8
 Agitation Oil Water Brine
None 0.25–0.30 0.9–1.1 2.0Mild 0.30–0.35 1.0–1.1 2.0–2.2Moderate 0.35–0.40 1.2–1.3Good 0.40–0.50 1.4–1.5Strong 0.50–0.80 1.6–2.0Violent 0.80–1.10 4.0 5.0
4 Illustration of surface cooling mechanism of solidstainless steel cylinder quenched in water
Canale et al.
Intensive quenching: Part 1
International Heat Treatment and Surface Engineering 
2007
VOL
1
NO
1
31
 
where the value
L
is the size characteristic and iscalculated from
L
~
(3)where
is the surface area of the piece being quenched,
is the volume of the piece being quenched and
is theKondratyev form coefficient (shape factor) which maybe found in reference tables such as Table 2 (Ref. 15).Another definition of intensive quenching is providedby the Kondratyev number
Kn
which is definednumerically by
Kn
~
y
Bi 
V
~
Bi 
V
Bi 
2V
z
1
:
437
Bi 
V
z
1
À Á
1
=
2
(4)Where
y
, the field non-uniformity criterion, is defined as
y
~
sf 
{
m
V
{
m
(5)where
sf 
is the average temperature of the surface of the component being quenched,
m
is the temperature of the quenchant and
V
is the average temperature overthe volume of the component.The value
y
can also be defined in terms of thegeneralised Biot criterion
Bi 
V
y
~
1
Bi 
2V
z
1
:
437
Bi 
V
z
1
À Á
1
=
2
(6)These equations indicate that:(i) as
Bi 
V
R
0,
y
R
1 and
sf 
<
V
. This means thatthe temperature field on a body to be quenched isuniform(ii) if 
Bi 
V
R
,
y
R
0 and
sf 
<
m
which means thatthe surface temperature of a body to be cooled isthe same as the quenchant temperature, uponimmersion into the quenchant. To accomplishthis, the relatively high amount of heat beingreleased from the surface of the metal to thequenchant requires not only high agitation ratesbut also high volume flow rates of the quenchantto remove the heat as fast as it is being evolvedfrom the steel(iii) if there is rapid cooling at the surface upon initialimmersion into the quenchant, it can be assumedthat the core temperature is essentially unchanged.This is how one achieves a hardened case andmaximum surface compressive stresses.A third definition of intensive quenching is that theKondratyev number for an intensive quenching processwill be 0.8
(
Kn
(
1. It is important to note that anintensive quenching process can be interrupted at thetime when maximum surface compressive stresses areformed (time quenching), which will occur at the socalled ‘optimal depth of hardened layer’. By using thenumerical relationships above, it is possible to controlthe temperature gradient through the cross-section of the component being quenched and to determine thetypes of residual stresses that will occur.Although a wide variety of time quench processeshave been developed, three are among the mostcommon: IQ1, IQ2 and IQ3:(i) IQ1 is a two step process. In the first step, a partis cooled slowly, (in an oil, aqueous polymersolution or molten salt, etc.) to the martensitestart temperature, then intensively cooled untilthe cooling process is complete.
10
In the first stepthe austenite–martensite transformation isdelayed almost completely, so intensive coolingis performed only within the martensitic range.Here the temperature gradient is not large allpoints of the cross-section uniformly reach themartensite start temperature simultaneously
10,16
(ii) IQ2 also has two steps. In the first step, a part isintensively cooled until the end of nucleateboiling. Then the part is unloaded and air cooledto allow equalisation of the temperature over allcross-sections. After this process, the part isintensively cooled a second time until the coolingis complete.
17,18
There is no nucleate boiling inthe second step(iii) IQ3 is the most intensive process, becausenucleate boiling is completely prevented. Directconvection is facilitated by intensive jets or waterflows until maximum surface compressive stres-ses are achieved. IQ3 can be applied to any partsin which the maximum depth of hardness isdesired.
2,19–23
The depth of hardness can beoptimisedbytheproperselectionofchemicalcom-position of the steel, to provide shell hardening.Figure 5 illustrates the residual stresses formed on thesurface of a cylindrical test specimen as a function of thegeneralised Biot number
Bi 
V
. As the quenching intensityincreases, the residual stresses also increase to a maxi-mum then decrease until they become compressive.
Table 2 Equations for calculation of Kondratyev shape factor for simple shapes
Shape of body
K S
 / 
 a
 )
Parallelepiped with sides
L
1
,
L
2
,
L
3
L
21
z
L
22
z
L
23
À Á
p
2
2
L
{
11
z
L
{
12
z
L
{
13
À Á
Cylinder of infinite size with height
5
:
783
{
2
z
9
:
87
{
2
À Á
{
1
2
{
1
z
{
1
À Á
Sphere
2
p
2
3
=
Wedge cut from cylinder
2
2
À Á
z
p
2
2
À ÁÂ Ã
{
1
2
{
1
z
{
1
z
2
{
14
0
5 Residual hoop stresses at surface of solid cylindricaltest specimen versus generalised Biot number
Bi 
V
Canale et al.
Intensive quenching: Part 1
32
International Heat Treatment and Surface Engineering 
2007
VOL
1
NO
1

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