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Inuence of hardness on the wear resistance of 17-4 PH stainless steel evaluated by the pin-on-disc testing
J.D. Bressan a, , D.P. Daros a , A. Sokolowski b , R.A. Mesquita c , C.A. Barbosa d

Departamento de Engenharia Mecanica, CCT, UDESC Joinville, Campus Universitario, 89223-100 UDESC Joinville, SC, Brazil Engenheiro Qumico, Pesquisador Senior da Villares Metals S.A., Sumar , SP, Brazil e c Engenheiro de Materiais, Pesquisador Senior da Villares Metals S.A., Sumar , SP, Brazil e d Engenheiro Metalurgista, Gerente de Tecnologia da Villares Metals S.A., Sumar , SP, Brazil e

a r t i c l e
Article history:

i n f o

a b s t r a c t
Present work aimed at investigating the wear resistance of AISI 630 (UNS S17400) or 17-4 PH stainless steel hardened by precipitation hardening or aging at various hardness levels. The PHs steels are an interesting family of steels for applying in highly stressed parts for its corrosion resistance and relative high hardness, attaining up to 49 HRC by low-temperature aging heat treatment, low distortion and excellent weldability. The wear tests by sliding and/or abrasion were performed in a pin-on-disc tribometer whose pins had three different hardness levels (43, 37 and 33 HRC) obtained by varying the precipitation hardening treat-

Received 9 July 2007 Received in revised form 22 September 2007 Accepted 20 November 2007

Keywords: Wear test Wear resistance PH stainless steel Heat treatment

ment. The counterface discs were machined from the same steel composition and aged to the hardness of 43 HRC. The steels wear resistances were evaluated, using sliding velocity of 0.6 m/s, normal load of 30 N, total sliding distance of 2400 m and controlled room temperature and humidity of 27 C and 60%, respectively. From the analysis of plotted graphs of cumulative lost volume versus sliding distance, it was observed the different wear rates as function of the heat treatment and hardness. Due to the pins different hardness, the wear resistance varied substantially. The wear mechanisms were also investigated through scanning electron microscopy observations of the worn surfaces of the pins. It can be asserted that the decrease in the pin hardness yields to lower pin wear resistance. The disc wear was more severe as the difference in hardness between pin and disc increased. It was presented a list of mean wear resistance, establishing the best heat treatment that minimize the wear in this material for sliding wear applications. For the investigated range of heat treatment and hardness, the 17-4 PH steel pins with hardness of 43 HRC showed the best wear resistance of 1941 and the pin with 33 HRC the worst wear resistance of 1581. 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.



Brazil is one of the largest soya bean producers in the world. One of the main down-stream industries is the soya oil production. In this industry, the chain conveyors take an

important role in the transportation of products during processing. A critical component is the conveyor chain composed by different sliding parts. The main wear mechanism present in these chains is the relative wear due to metalmetal sliding (Magee, 1992). Fig. 1 shows one example of a worn component

Corresponding author. Tel.: +55 47 4009 7958; fax: +55 47 4009 7940. E-mail addresses: (J.D. Bressan), (D.P. Daros), (A. Sokolowski), (R.A. Mesquita), (C.A. Barbosa). 0924-0136/$ see front matter 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved. doi:10.1016/j.jmatprotec.2007.11.251


j o u r n a l o f m a t e r i a l s p r o c e s s i n g t e c h n o l o g y 2 0 5 ( 2 0 0 8 ) 353359

Fig. 1 Worn pin utilized in the conveyor chain of a soya processing plant. The pin was fabricated with 17-4 PH steel heat treated to 33 HRC by aging H 1100.

in such chains. The main steel selection criteria for parts submitted to wear is usually based on the surface hardness of the component. Besides this criterion, the corrosion resistance is also very important steel selection factor due to the acidity, temperatures and humidity present in the soya processing conveyor chains. The combination of high hardness levels and toughness, as well as good corrosion resistance, can be fullled by the precipitation hardening stainless steels, named commonly by PH steels. Nowadays, the PH steels are an interesting family of steels to apply in many components due to its heat treatment characteristics and combination of good corrosion resistance, high strength, low distortion, excellent weldability and relative high hardness up to 49 HRC. These steels are classied in function of the chemical composition and the different phases present in the microstructure. The 17-4 PH steel (AISI Type 630 or UNS S17400) is a low-carbon martensitic stainless steel containing nickel and copper, hardenable by precipitation. It can be fabricated in various shapes of worked products as bars, wires, sheets, forged parts, cast products, powder metallurgy and powder injection molding products. In steel plants, its production starts generally by melting in an electric arc furnaces or open air induction furnaces or even vacuum induction furnaces. In addition, for critical applications, as in the aerospace industry, it is commonly submitted to rening by vacuum arc remelting process, VAR or electroslag remelting, ESR. The 17-4 PH steel is a versatile steel that shows good combination of high strength, toughness, resistance to corrosion, wear and weldability. Its corrosion resistance in various environments is comparable to the 304 austenitic stainless steel and its resistance to oxidation is superior to the 410 martensitic stainless steel. Its metallurgy allows to be machined in the socalled solution treated condition (solution heat treatment with fast cooling) when has relative low hardness. After machining operations, it can be hardened for a wide range of mechanical properties and hardness by the precipitation aging heat treatment in the temperatures between 480 and 620 C. The increase in hardness and strength is due to the precipitation hardening that occurs over the martensite structure previ-

ously formed during the solution treatment. Its application hardness is commonly in the range of 3445 HRC. During age hardening occurs a nely dispersed submicroscopic precipitation of intermetallic phase, rich in copper, inside the martensitic matrix with low-carbon content and stable at room temperature. Besides the mechanical components for movement transmission, the typical applications of this steel also includes structural parts of airplanes, various aerospace components, vapor turbine blades, hydraulic valve parts, surgical instruments, high-precision rollers that can operate up to 300 C, high-pressure pump body, pump and boat shafts. Mechanical strength is commonly dened by the yield stress or the ultimate tensile strength. On the other hand, wear is dened as the surface progressive loss of mass of a solid in relative motion, leading to surface damage or rupture. Wear can be mild or severe, depending on the contact conditions between the surfaces: pressure, contact temperature, coefcient of friction and materials hardness. The contact conditions or contact severity can dened by an equation that relates these variables. The wear resistance of materials is usually obtained by performing wear tests in a laboratory equipment named tribometer. A standard laboratory test that simulates the severe conditions of mechanical components is the pin-on-disc testing, according to the ASTM G99-95 standard (ASTM, 1995). In this equipment, the test is carried out at selected constant parameters as the total sliding distance, the normal load on the pin, the sliding velocity and controlled conditions of temperature and relative humidity (Bressan and Hesse, 2001). The aim of present work is to investigate the wear resistance of 17-4 PH steel specimens obtained from rolled bars produced by conventional melting process and with three different heat treatments, consequently, various hardness, using the pin-on-disc testing in accordance with the ASTM G99-95 standard. Both counterface or discs and pins were fabricated from the same 17-4 PH steel composition.


Laboratory wear testing

Wear resistance is a relevant issue in the material selection for mould and dies, thus, consequently, laboratory wear tests were developed aimed at measuring wear resistance under controlled conditions similar to working situations. Through testing, wear resistance and mechanisms can be investigated and to classify the materials for these applications. The correlation among the laboratory simulation tests and its application in the design of moulds, dies and mechanical components is of great importance for practical tribology. However, the diversity of variables that inuences wear makes this correlation sometimes rather difcult. Wear resistance and friction coefcient are not characteristic material properties, but depend on both the material properties and surface geometric features as well as on the wear process parameters as load, temperature, sliding velocity and environment. The experimental results of wear carried out in laboratory are commonly analyzed by the Archads (Hutchings, 1995) or Rabinowiczs equation (Rabinowicz, 1965) that assess the wear rate and the wear coefcient, relating the cumulative lost vol-

j o u r n a l o f m a t e r i a l s p r o c e s s i n g t e c h n o l o g y 2 0 5 ( 2 0 0 8 ) 353359


ume per sliding unit with the wear resistance through the linear equation (Hutchings, 1995): Q (mm3 /m) = V FN =K S H (1)

where Q is the parameter that measures the wear ratio or wear rate (cumulative lost volume V or lost mass per sliding unit S), FN is the applied normal load, H is the softer material hardness and K is the wear coefcient: is non-dimensional and less than 1. In general, the wear resistance is dened as 1/K. Therefore, the wear coefcient is given by K= QH = KS H FN (2)

where KS is the specic wear coefcient (KS = Q/FN ) which unit is mm3 /m N. Notice that both coefcients refer to the softer material. In the present wear testing of pin-on-disc the softer material is the pin. The cumulative lost volume is obtained by V= m (m = mass; = density) (3)

Fig. 2 Disc or counterface and pin of 17-4 PH steel utilized in the pin-on-disc testing.

Table 2 Experimental tensile mechanical properties of the 17-4 PH steel pins Tensile properties Set 1
1237 1332 14.2 43

Set 2
1096 1140 15.0 37

Set 3
921 1017 18.0 33

The wear coefcient K is of fundamental importance and provides a valuable parameter of comparison for the severity of the wear process in various tribologic systems. Thus, the Archad wear equation provides parameters that describes the severity of wear through the coefcient K, but its value cannot be used to conrm the existence or not of a determined mechanism of material removal. It is necessary to use the optical microscope or the scanning electron microscope to identify the main acting wear mechanisms.

0.2 % yield strength (MPa) Rupture strength (MPa) Elongation (%) Hardness (HRC)


Experimental procedure and materials

The experimental wear resistance results for the 17-4 PH steel were obtained by carrying out the wear testing in the pin-ondisc equipment for a selected constant total sliding distance, constant normal load on the pin and a sliding velocity also constant (Bressan and Hesse, 2001; Williams, 1997). Table 1 shows the used parameters during the testing operation. For each pin hardness level, three tests were performed, totalizing ninepins of 17-4 PH steel at three different hardness levels.


Preparation of specimens

treatment, the pins were machined and submitted to the precipitation hardening treatment, according to the utilization goal as chains parts, to increase its hardness and strength. Table 2 shows the mechanical properties, for each pin type, obtained experimentally after the correspondent heat treatment. Table 3 presents the heat treatment conditions of the pins and their respective hardness. The toughness, evaluated by the energy of Charpy V impact testing specimens of pins material heat treated to the different hardness levels, are shown in Fig. 3 as a function of hardness. From Table 2 and Fig. 3, it is demonstrated an inverse relationship between toughness and hardness in the range of the investigated hardness which were obtained by varying the aging temperature and time. Discs: the counter face or disc, Fig. 2, was obtained by cutting a slice from a 17-4 PH steel bar in the solution heat treated condition (Table 4). All discs were machined to 50 mm

Pins: in the fabrication of pins, round bars of 17-4 PH steel (V630 Villares Trademark) was utilized. The pins were machined by the conventional methods, i.e., turning and grinding to obtain the desired pin shape with a rounded tip with radius approximately 10 mm as seen in Fig. 2. After the solution heat

Table 3 Heat treatment conditions for the pins and the obtained hardness Heat Treatment
Quenching Heating (1 h) Cooling in water Aging Heating Cooling in air Hardness HRC

Pins 1A, 1B, 1C

1040 C 25 C 480 C, 1 h 25 C 43

Pins 2A, 2B, 2C

1040 C 25 C 550 C, 4 h 25 C 37

Pins 3A, 3B, 3C

1040 C 25 C 600 C, 4 h 25 C 33

Table 1 Parameters utilized for performing the wear tests

Sliding velocity (m/s) Load 30 N (kgf) Total sliding distance (m) Track radius (mm) 0.6 2.953 2400 14.3


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Fig. 3 Evolution of the 17-4 PH toughness vs. hardness at room temperature (25 C) evaluated by the Charpy-V impact testing specimens after precipitation hardening at different aging temperatures.

Fig. 4 Typical microstructure of the 17-4 PH steel pins, set 2, after aging at hardness of 37 HRC. Transversal section after etching with Vilella.

Table 4 Heat treatment conditions for the discs and the obtained hardness Heat treatment
Quenching Solution (1 h) Cooling in water Precipitation Heating Cooling in air Hardness HRC

1040 C 25 C 480 C 25 C 43

in diameter and 3 mm thickness. Following, the hardening precipitation heat treatment was performed and afterwards, the discs were grinded and polished. The mean nal hardness of all discs was 43 HRC, see Table 4.


Microstructure of 17-4 PH steel

In Fig. 4, the microstructure of the serie 2 pins in the transversal sections can be observed. The microstructure is constituted of aged martensite. The chemical attack used was Vilella reagent by immersion. The chemical composition of pins and discs are shown in Table 5.

the pin and the disc were weighed in an analytical balance with resolution 0.1 mg to determine its initial mass before testing. Following, the sliding track radius, the rotation velocity of disc and the revolutions counter were set to the operation conditions. The revolution counter was programmed to stop at each 200 m of sliding distance for the total of 2400 m, in order to allow intermediate measurements of pin and disc lost mass. These measurements were always preceded by a complete cleaning of specimens by rubbing a dry cloth and, next, using a ux of compressed air. Before weighing, the specimens were dried out in a furnace at 80 C for 10 min to avoid any solvent or humidity in the specimen so to evaluate the real mass lost from the pin and disc. The pin and disc were xed in the same position and orientation by an initial sign. The pin-ondisc apparatus was equipped with a large glass campanula that covered the specimens. Temperature and humidity inside the campanula were kept at approximately 25 C and 5560% of relative humidity. One value of normal load on pin was selected for each test: 30 N. The17-4 PH steel discs were tested in both faces, using three pins per each hardness level.


Results and discussions


Procedure for pin-on-disc testing

The specimens were submitted to a rigorous preparation procedure to eliminate any trace of dust, dirt or oxidation. Next,

In Fig. 5, the experimental results for the discs in the pin-ondisc tests are presented. Although all the discs have the same hardness value of 43 HRC, the disc wear rate varied substantially due to the pin different hardness. The discs from set 1, 1A-1, 1A-2 and 1B-1, were tested against pins of hardness 43 HRC, the discs from set 2, 2A-1,

Table 5 Chemical composition of the 17-4 PH steel pins and discs and the range specied in the standard ASTM (% in mass) C
ASTM A564 Sample analysis Max. 0.07 0.035

Max. 1.0 0.42

Max. 1.0 0.65

15.017.0 15.2

3.05.0 4.32

3.05.0 3.37

0.150.45 0.23

Max. 0.040 0.025

Max.0.030 0.002


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Vickers HV

425 425 425

365 365 365 37 37 37 1736.5 2193.0 1508.3 1508.3 5.94 4.56 6.63 6.63 4.86 3.75 5.40 5.45 2A 2B 2C


Rockwell HRC

43 43 43

Mean values (1/K)


Wear resistance (1/K)

Fig. 5 Pin-on-disc experimental results. Evolution of the discs cumulative lost volume versus sliding distance. Discs hardened to 43 HRC. Normal load of 30 N.

1941.7 1941.7 1941.7

Mean values (K) ( 104 )

Wear coefcient (K) ( 104 )

5.15 5.15 5.15

Fig. 6 Evolution of pin cumulative lost volume versus sliding distance for the pin-on-disc tests. Pin hardness is indicated. Discs hardness are 43 HRC. Normal load of 30 N. Table 6 Average wear parameters of the 17-4 PH steel pins

Mean values Q = V/S (mm3 /m) ( 103 )


Average wear rate Q = V/S (mm3 /m) ( 103 )

3.64 3.64 3.64

1A 1B 1C

3A 3B 3C

Fig. 7 Evolution of pin cumulative lost volume versus sliding distance for the pin-on-disc tests. Pin hardness is indicated. Discs hardness are 43 HRC. Normal load of 30 N.

Pin set and number

5.91 5.45 5.91


6.50 6.00 6.50



1538.4 1666.7 1538.4


33 33 33

330 330 330


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2A-2 and 2B-1, were tested against pins of hardness 37 HRC and the discs from set 3, 3A-1, 3A-2 and 3B-1, were tested against pins of hardness 33 HRC. In general, the disc wear rate Q (=V/S) is constant and linear, but increased with the decrease in the pin hardness, i.e., the wear was more severe as the difference in hardness between pin and disc increased. The disc maximum average wear rate was 4.54 103 mm3 /m and the minimum was 2.95 103 mm3 /m which yields the wear coef-

cients K = 0.643 103 and 0.418 103 , respectively, using Eq. (1). Therefore, in the case of the harder material, the disc, the hardness H in the wear Eq. (1) should be possibly substituted by an equivalent hardness He dened as: 1/He = 1/Hdisc + 1/Hpin . Certainly, the adhesive mechanism in the pin and the micro-delamination mechanisms in the disc were more stressed for pin and disc from the same material and pin with lower hardness as will be observed latter.

Fig. 8 SEM micrographs of the worn surface morphology at the pin tip before and after sliding 50, 100 and 2400 m. Magnications 50 and 500.

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On the other hand, in Fig. 6, the pin wear rates can be investigated. The gure shows, the higher the hardness the lower the wear rate, i.e., the curve of lost volume versus sliding distance is situated more lower, in accordance with the prediction of Eq. (1). The range of variations of pins wear rates is higher than for the discs. In Table 6, the summary of pins wear parameters under load of 30 N, such as the average wear rate Q, the wear coefcient K and the wear resistance are presented. The average wear rate of the pins with the lowest hardness of 33 HRC was 5.75 103 mm3 /m and for the highest hardness of 43 HRC was 3.64 103 mm3 /m. In Fig. 7, the relationship between the wear rate among the pins with hardness 43, 37 and 33 HRC is shown. It is clear that the precipitation hardening heat treatment that yielded the pin hardness of 43 HRC is the most wear resistant steel, attaining the wear resistance value of 1941, instead of the pin material with the minimum hardness of 33 HRC which has only a wear resistance value of 1581. In Fig. 8, the photographs obtained by SEM from the worn area of the pin tip, set 3, are presented. The photographs were taken before the wear test and after 50, 100 and 2400 m, in order to identify the acting wear mechanisms. It is noted the mechanisms of micro-grooving, adhesion and microdelamination (Zum Gahr, 1998). In the micro-delamination mechanism, small akes of material are pulled out from the surface during the pin sliding on the disc.

rate increases with the increase in the hardness difference between pin and disc. The trend of the pin wear rate curves with the sliding distance is approximately constant and linear. However, in the nal stage, some pins presented the tendency to decrease the wear rate. This is due the decrease in the real contact pressure with the increase of the pin contact area and/or increase in the hardness of the disc track. The observed wear mechanisms in the SEM are microgrooving or micro-cutting, adhesion and micro-delamination or micro-aking. The average wear rate of pins under load of 30 N and hardness of 33 HRC was 5.75 103 mm3 /m, the pins with hardness 37 HRC was 4.86 103 mm3 /m and for hardness of 43 HRC was 3.64 103 mm3 /m. This yields a wear coefcient K = 0.632 103 , 0.594 103 and 0.515 103 , respectively. The corresponding wear resistance is: 1581, 1736 and 1941. Thus, for the investigated range of heat treatment, the 17-4 PH steel pin with hardness of 43 HRC has presented the best wear resistance of 1941 and the pin with 33 HRC the worst wear resistance of 1581.

The authors would like to gratefully acknowledge the nancial support received from The Brazilian Research Council-CNPq as a research and scientic initiation scholarships, as well as the University of Santa Catarina State-UDESC and Villares Metals for supplying the material of the discs and pins.



From the pin-on-disc experimental results shown in the plots of cumulative lost volume versus sliding distance of 174 PH steel discs and pins and from the scanning electron microscope observations of the worn surface, the following conclusions can be drawn: In general, the trend of the wear rate curve for discs versus the sliding distance is constant and linear after the initial stage. That is, the instantaneous wear ratio (tangent to the curve) is approximately constant. The discs plotted curves shows two distinct stages or regimes: initial stage 1 up to 200 m or initial run in phase with accelerated wear and the second stage of constant wear rate up to the test end. However, the disc wear rate increased with the decrease of the pin hardness. In this case, for the harder material, the disc, the Archad Eq. (1) for wear rate has to be reformulated, possibly substituting the hardness H by an equivalent hardness He (1/He = 1/Hdisc + 1/Hpin ), i.e., Q = KFN /He , the disc wear


ASTM, 1995. Designation: G99-95; Standard Test Method for Wear Testing with a Pin-on-Disk Apparatus, pp. 336390. Bressan, J.D., Hesse, R., 2001. Construction and validation tests of a pin-on-disc equipment. In: XVI Congresso Brasileiro de Engenharia Mecanica, ABCM (Ed.), COBEM, Uberlandia/MG, dezembro. Hutchings, I.M., 1995. Tribology: Friction and Wear of Engineering Materials, Arnold. Magee, J.H., 1992. Wear of Stainless steels, ASM Handbook, vol. 18, pp. 710724. Rabinowicz, E., 1965. Friction and Wear of Materials. Wiley, New York. Williams, J.A., 1997. The laboratory simulation of abrasive wear. Tribotest J. 3, 267306. Zum Gahr, K.H., 1998. Wear by hard particles. Tribol. Int. 31 (10), 587596.