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Vacuum 85 (2010) 390e396

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Vacuum
journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/vacuum

The effect of salt bath cementation on mechanical behavior
of hot-rolled and cold-drawn SAE 8620 and 16MnCr5 steels
_ 
en, Metin Usta*
Ilyas
Yeg
Gebze Institute of Technology, Department of Materials Science and Engineering, No: 101, 41400 Gebze, Turkey

a r t i c l e i n f o

a b s t r a c t

Article history:
Received 4 June 2010
Received in revised form
22 July 2010
Accepted 24 July 2010

In this study, the effect of salt bath cementation on mechanical behavior of SAE 8620 and 16MnCr5
cementation steels, which are widely used in industry, was investigated. The experiments were carried
out with hot rolled and cold rolled specimens. The cementation processes were performed in NaCN salt
bath at 920  C temperature for 1, 2, 3 and 4 h. Abrasive wear tests of specimens were conducted with
Wolfram Carbide (WC) ball for 1 h. After cementation processes, a martensite phase on the surface of
specimens was confirmed by X-ray diffraction analysis. After cementation processes carried out with
different times, a different surface hardness and effective cementation depth values were obtained.
Experimental results showed that an effective cementation depth increased with increasing the
cementation time. Wear tests showed that the wear resistance of specimens increased by the cementation processes. Experimental results revealed that the surface hardness of specimen affects the wear
resistance of specimens.
Ó 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Keywords:
Cementation
SAE 8620 steel
16MnCr5 steel
Mechanical behavior

1. Introduction
Steels are most useful engineering materials because of their
high mechanical properties, machining, rolling, forging capability
and lower cost than the alternative materials. Steels are widely
used for production of machine parts subjected to abrasive wear,
automotive industry, construction industry and the other engineering areas. Wear is the most common problem for steels used in
these engineering areas. Therefore, production of wear resistance
steels came into prominence [1e5].
As a consequence of wear, the shape, dimension and the surface
structure of machine parts changes. The result of these changes the
machine parts are not be able to do their functions. The materials
lost, exchanging the worn parts, the expensing time and the cost for
maintenance- repair of machines, human resource etc. cause a big
economical lost for world industry [1e5].
Machine components such as shaft, gears and cams often require
a very hard surface that can resist wear and a soft, tough core that
can withstand the impact stress that occurs during operation. An
established method for production of such a combination of hard
case and soft, tough core is case hardening of steels through carburizing and quenching called cementation. This procedure involves

* Corresponding author. Tel.: þ90 262 605 17 82; fax: þ90 262 6538490.
E-mail address: ustam@gyte.edu.tr (M. Usta).
0042-207X/$ e see front matter Ó 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
doi:10.1016/j.vacuum.2010.07.013

first the addition of carbon to the surface of a low-carbon steel (%
C < 0.25) to produce a composite consisting of high carbon steel case
and low-carbon steel core. During subsequent quenching the high
carbon austenitic surface layer transforms to martensite. The
microstructure of the core region is determined by the carbon
content and by the base hardenability of the steel. If steel has low
hardenability, the core may transform to ferrite and small amount of
pearlite, depending on the quenching rate. If the steel has high
hardenability, the core may transform to martensite [1e4].
Cementation is a remarkable method of enhancing the surface
properties of shafts, gears, high stressed machine parts to obtain
very high surface hardness, fatigue resistance and wear resistance.
Tempered martensite is the dominant microstructure constituent
of properly carburized steel. However, the martensite changes in
morphology, amount, and properties as a function of distance from
the surface. Other microstructural constituents may also be present
and significantly affect the performance of carburized parts. These
other microstructural components include retained austenite,
massive carbides, prior austenite, grain boundaries carbides,
phosphorus segregation and surface oxides. Core microstructures
depending on hardenability may consist of tempered martensite,
bainite, or ferrite and pearlite. The case and core microstructures
affect residual stresses levels occurred in the microstructures,
fatigue resistance, rolling-contact fatigue, hardness and wear
resistance of steels. After carburizing processes, the carbon content
that is normally maximum level at the surface decreases with

Experimental studies The experiments were carried out with hot rolled and cold rolled specimens. 2. Therefore.70 0.01 0e0. Hot-rolled 22 mm. X-ray analysis of test specimens a) Hot-rolled SAE 8620 specimens b) Cold-drawn SAE 8620 specimens c) Hot-rolled 16MnCr5 specimes d) Cold-drawn 16MnCr5 specimens. this study is important to compare the carburizing and wear properties of SAE 8620 and 16MnCr5 steels at the same conditions.54 e 0.19 e 0.17e0.%) DIN 16MnCr5 16MnCr5 Test Specimen SAE 8620 8620 Test Specimen C Si Mn P S Cr Mo Ni 0. Retained austenite reduces the hardness of the carburized surface [1e8]. The effective case depth is influenced by carburizing time.40e0.035 0.65e0. SAE 8620 and 16MnCr5 cementation steels have high mechanical and hardenability properties and the lower cost than the other cementation steels. diameter.8 and 1% C.95 0.30 1. Consequently. SAE 8620 and 16MnCr5 cementation steels are widely used in industry.035 0.009 0e0. product shape and size. M.40 0.40e0.03 0. a high carbon potential produces a high surface-carbon content.14e0. 1. 391 Table 1 The chemical composition of the SAE 8620 and 16MnCr5 test specimens (written in bold) and the standard chemical analysis of SAE 8620 and 16MnCr5 cementation steels.70 0.85 0e0.10 0. Hardness level in the microstructure also changes with carbon contents of the specimens.46 distance into the specimen. Chemical Analysis (wt._ Yegen. Although these steels are widely used. The aim of this study is to investigate the mechanical behavior of hot rolled and cold-drawn SAE 8620 and 16MnCr5 cementation steels exposed to carburizing processes. Most of the studies were carried out with SAE 8620 steel.23 0.12 0.25 0.01 0e0. chemical composition of steel.25 1.8% because too high a carbon content can result in retained austenite and brittle martensite. carbon content of carburizing atmospheres. retained austenite and residual stresses affected by carburizing practices [1e16].00e1. When prolonged carburizing times are used for deep case depths. and the rate of cooling [1e4]. After the cold-drawn process for two quality Fig.19 0e0. a high carbon potential may be suitable for short carburizing times but not for prolonged carburizing [1e8]. surface carbon is often limited to 0.2%. with the carbon content of the carburized layer generally being controlled at between 0. temperature. Usta / Vacuum 85 (2010) 390e396 I. . which may thus result in excessive retained austenite or free carbides.40 0.004 0. Therefore.16 0.15e0.26 0e0.80e1. However. These two microstructural elements both have adverse effects on the distribution of residual stress in the case-hardened part.13 0.95 0. diameter specimens were cold drawn to the 20 mm.035 0. Case depth of carburized steel is a function of carburizing time and the available carbon potential at the surface.19 0. there is not enough study that compares the carburizing properties and wear resistances of both steels in the same study.035 0. Carburizing steels for case hardening usually have base-carbon contents of about 0. and most of those studies widely focused on fatigue performance.

Martensite is formed by quenching at a rate above cooling rate. Steel which contains above % 0. 4 h according to carburizing times. In steels.9 1 1. Martensite phase was determined on the carburized specimen surfaces as expected. Prior to the experiment.8 C must be quenched to subzero temperatures to form all martensite microstructure [2e4. diameter) specimens were obtained. pearlite.1 1. diameter) and the cold-drawn (20 mm.6 16. Usta / Vacuum 85 (2010) 390e396 I. Specimens were processed to the direct quenched from carburizing temperature. These resulting products are referred as high temperature transformation products.8 6. and the carburized specimens were marked by 1 h. Results and discussions 697 Where Wa: wear rate (mm3/Nm).14.4 6.2 6.9 830 639 767 773 268 456 461 458 455 265 0.1 1 0.2 16. In addition to the martensite phase austenite phase (retained austenite).4 e 1.8 0. Increasing the carbon content of the austenite also depresses the martensite start (Ms) temperature and the martensite finish (Mf) temperature. The specimens quenched into salt bath named AS 160 were tempered 180  C for 2 h.2 6.3 6. it becomes unstable and decomposes to some new constituent such as ferrite. M: load (N). During carburizing process. or bainite depending on the chemical composition of the steel and the rate of cooling.1. S: wear distance (m). G: weight lost (mg).8 7.8 6. Determination of martensite phase on carburized surfaces proved that the cementation processes were effectively carried out.1 1. oxide phases and iron carbide phase were determined on the carburized specimen surfaces.3 e 6 14. In low-carbon steels.4 e 7. 1. which leads the difficulties in converting whole austenite to martensite [2e4.9 1 1. these transformations take place at temperatures between the A3 and about 400  C.6e16].6 1.6. The microhardness values were measured by the Vickers hardness method with the load of 20 g. Then. the hot rolled (22 mm. the wear rates of the specimens were calculated according to the equation below. The result of X-ray analysis showed that only iron phase was determined on the non-carburized specimen surfaces as expected.8 6 6. effective cementation depths and wear rate of carburized and non-carburized specimens. 2 h.8 240 446 442 445 442 The XRD analysis of carburized and non-carburized specimens are given in Fig. Wear experiments were conducted with wolfram carbide (WC) ball for 1 h with the load of 10 N. The chemical compositions of the SAE 8620 and 16MnCr5 test specimens and the standard chemical analysis of SAE 8620 and 16MnCr5 cementation steels are given in Table 1. d density (g/cm3) 793 (1) 848   G mm3 =Nm d$M$S 808 Wa ¼ Hot Rolled SAE 8620 Cold Drawn SAE 8620 Hot Rolled 16MnCr5 Cold Drawn 16MnCr5 steels (SAE 8620 and 16MnCr5).9 1. the samples were cleaned with alcohol and the mass of the samples was measured gravimetrically with 104 mg sensitivity. In Fig. If Mf temperature is lowered below the quenching temperature. austenite does not transform to martensite. On cooling from such temperatures.2 e 5.4 787 804 813 833 290 435 446 442 446 250 0.5 845 800 813 822 310 463 460 460 462 270 0.7]. X-ray diffraction analyses were performed for determination of the phases on the surfaces after the cementation processes. The cementation processes were carried out in NaCN salt bath called Durferrit at 920  C temperature for 1. Carburizing Surface hardness (HV) Core Hardnes (HV) Effective Case Depth (mm) Wear Rate (mm3/Nm) condition 1 hour 2 hours 3 hours 4 hours Base Specimen 1 hour 2 hours 3 hours 4 hours Base Specimen 1 hour 2 hours 3 hours 4 hours Base Specimen 1 hour 2 hours 3 hours 4 hours Base Specimen _ Yegen. 2.8 0.2 6. austenite is stable at temperatures above the A3 and Acm phase lines. X-ray diffraction analysis 250 3.7 7. the carbon potential of salt bath was % 1 C. 3 and 4 h. 3.7 7 5. M. Increasing the carbon content on the carburized specimen surfaces leads to carbon atoms combined with iron to form iron Table 2 Surface hardness. 392 . 3 h. 1. the specimens that were not carburized named as “Base Specimen”. The analysis with Cu Ka radiation source has 1541 Angstron wavelength and the scanning angles (2q) ranged 2q from 20 to 100 .

When oxidation takes place. carbide. Due to the chemical compositions of specimens. resulting in reducing the amount of martensite and increasing the amount of retained austenite [17.0 0.0 2.18].6 1.6 1.0 0. released by the gasemetal reactions that take place during carburizing. They can chemically combine with available substitutional elements that have high oxidation potential and form oxides.6 0.8 2.8 Distance from surface (mm) 500 400 300 600 500 400 300 Base Specimen 1 hour 2 hours 3 hours 4 hours 200 100 Base Specimen 1 hour 2 hours 3 hours 4 hours 200 100 0 0 0. the specimen carburized for 2 h has the highest intensity of oxides phase peaks and has the highest intensity of austenite phase peaks. X-ray analysis revealed that the oxides phases lead to non-martensitic transformation by reducing the amount of alloying elements providing hardenability.2 0. more carbon atoms combine with iron atoms and form iron carbide phases [2e4].2 0. In commercial case hardening steels. In cold-drawn carburized SAE 8620 specimens.8 1.8 1. The specimen carburized for 2 h has the lowest intensity of oxides phase peaks and has the lowest intensity of austenite phase peaks. oxygen atoms.4 0.8 2. a b 900 Hot Rollled SAE 8620 900 Cold Drawn SAE 8620 800 800 700 700 600 600 Hardness (HV) Hardness (HV) 393 500 400 300 Base Specimen 1 hour 200 500 400 300 Base Specimen 1 hour 2 hours 3 hours 4 hours 200 2 hours 3 hours 100 100 4 hours 0 0 0. In the oxidation process. Deeper cases will produce deeper penetrating oxides.0 2.6 Distance from surface (mm) c Hot Rolled 16MnCr5 d 900 1.2 0.4 0.0 1.6 1.0 0. Cr.6 1. These results are valid for 16MnCr5 hot-rolled and cold-drawn carburized specimens.2 1. The specimen carburized for 4 h has the lowest intensity of oxides phases and has the lowest intensity of austenite phase.4 1.2 Cold Drawn 16MnCr5 1000 900 800 800 700 700 600 Hardness (HV) Hardness (HV) 0. oxides phases were determined on all of the carburized specimen surfaces.4 0.2 1.8 2.2 Distance from surface (mm) Fig.0 0.4 1. In hot-rolled carburized SAE 8620 specimens. From there. Usta / Vacuum 85 (2010) 390e396 I. have the highest intensity of austenite phase peaks and the lowest intensity of martensite phase peaks. When carbon content on surfaces increases. Ni. 1 showed that the specimens that have the highest intensity of oxide phases peaks.2 0. M.0 1.4 1. Cr providing hardenability of steels.6 0.0 2.4 0. This reducing causes the non-martensitic transformation in steels. The lowest intensity of oxides phases and austenite phase caused the highest intensity of martensite phase in cold-drawn carburized SAE 8620 specimens. the oxygen atoms diffuse inward along grain and subgrain boundaries and into the lattice.2 1.0 2.0 1. are adsorbed onto the metallic surface. the depths at which the oxides are detected by conventional optical microscopy are typically less than 25 mm. the specimen carburized for 4 h has the highest intensity of oxides phase peaks and has the highest intensity of austenite phase peaks.4 1.2 Distance from surface (mm) 0. X-ray analysis in Fig. The hardness profiles and the effective cementation depths of specimens a) Hot-rolled SAE 8620 Specimens b) Cold-drawn SAE 8620 specimens c) Hot-rolled 16MnCr5 specimens d) Cold-drawn 16MnCr5 specimens.8 2._ Yegen. The lowest intensity of oxides phases and austenite phase caused the highest intensity of martensite phase in hot-rolled carburized SAE 8620 specimens.6 0. A consequence of forming oxides phases or increasing the amount of oxide phases leads to non-martensitic transformation. The highest intensity of oxides phases and austenite phase caused the lowest intensity of martensite phase in hot-rolled carburized SAE 8620 specimens. Si.0 1. the amounts of alloying elements are reduced due to the chemically combining of oxygen to the alloying elements such as Mn. 2.2 0. The highest intensity of oxides phases and austenite phase caused the lowest intensity of martensite phase peaks in cold-drawn carburized SAE 8620 specimens. In hot-rolled carburized 16MnCr5 . The chemical compositions of test specimens given Table 1 have alloying elements that have high oxidation potential such as Mn.8 1.2 1.

the dislocation density is greater in cold-drawn materials than in the hot-rolled materials. highest intensity of oxide phases was obtained in 16MnCr5 specimens. decreases in the core. the dislocation density of surfaces is greater than the cores in colddrawn materials. Fig. have the lowest surface hardnesses. the effective cementation depth increases as well. This results in decreasing the surface hardness by reducing the amount of martensite and increasing the amount of retained austenite. 4 were obtained. Effective cementation depths increased depending on the carbon diffusion that increased with time. 4. because of their different diameters leading to probable different cooling rate. When oxidation occurs. the cold-drawn specimens have the higher intensity of martensite phase rather than hot-rolled specimens. The SEM micrograph shows the microhardnesses of carburized SAE 8620 specimen carburized for 2 h. forming oxide phases. Therefore. SAE 8620 specimens have Mo and Ni alloying elements that provide hardenability of steels. The SEM pictures show the microhardness values of hot-rolled carburized SAE 8620 and 16MnCr5 for 2 h given in Figs. 2. effective cementation depths and wear rate of carburized and non-carburized specimens given in Table 2. the specimen carburized for 2 h has the lowest intensity of austenite phase and the highest intensity of martensite phase. Ni. As shown in Table 2. In addition to the chemical composition of 16MnCr5 specimens. specimens. In cold-drawn materials. Usta / Vacuum 85 (2010) 390e396 I. While carburizing time increases. Cr alloying elements. the amounts of alloying elements are reduced due to the chemically combining of oxygen to the alloying elements such as Mn. Thus. the degree of the plastic deformation on the surfaces is greater than the one on the core. Cr. This reducing causes the non-martensitic transformation in steels. Cr that providing the hardenability of steels. than SAE 8620 specimens. the carbon atoms can diffuse deeper distances from the surface. The hardness tests showed that the hardnesses of carburized specimens decreased from the surface to the core depending on the carbon profile that reaches maximum content at surface and Fig.2. The chemical composition of 16MnCr5 specimens have higher amount of Mn. In cold-drawn 16MnCr5 specimens. The hardness test showed that surface hardnesses of carburized specimens varied depending on the intensity of phases obtained by X-ray diffraction analysis. Therefore. the surface hardnesses of cold-drawn materials are greater than the core hardnesses and also hot-rolled materials. the specimens could be hardened by the quench process. the specimen carburized for 2 h has the lowest intensity of austenite phase and the highest intensity of martensite phase. The chemical composition of carburized specimens consists of Mn. M. In addition. The SEM micrograph shows the microhardnesses of carburized 16MnCr5 specimen carburized for 2 h. The hardness and the effective cementation depth results The hardness profiles and the effective cementation depths are given in Fig. 3. Mo alloying elements that provides the hardenability. each SEM photos was combined and Figures 3. In comparison of the cold-drawn with the hot-rolled carburized specimens. 3 and 4. After that. Surface hardness. The specimens that have the highest intensity of oxide phases peaks. Therefore. The SEM photos were taken for each hardness values from surface to the core. 3. The core hardness of carburized specimens increased by the quench process performed after the carburizing. the surface hardnesses of cold-drawn non-carburized specimens . the highest intensity of martensite phases was obtained in SAE 8620 specimens. Therefore. In all of the steel quality groups (SAE 8620-16MnCr5 hot rolled-cold drawn) the specimens that have the highest intensity of martensite phase peaks have the highest surface hardnesses.394 _ Yegen. As a consequence of increasing carbon diffusion. causing the highest intensity of austenite phase peaks.

3.20]. The carburizing process carried out above the recrystallization temperature softened the cold-drawn specimens by eliminating the dislocation density and rearranging the dislocation array. As shown in Table 2. It is concluded that the wear resistance of low-carbon steel is increased by the cementation process [5.0 1 hour 1 hour 2 hours 2. 16MnCr5 specimens are harder than SAE 8620 specimens due the solid solution hardening. However. there are no distinct wear rate differences determined between hot rolled and cold-drawn carburized specimens.0 Wear Rat e ( mm 3/Nm)x10-5 Wear Rat e ( mm 3/Nm)x10-5 310 HV 14.0 822 HV Base Specimen 4. Conclusions Hardness is the most important factor that influences wear resistance of materials.0 Wear Rat e ( mm 3/Nm)x10-5 Wear rat e ( mm 3/Nm)x10-5 b 14.0 787 HV 804 HV 813 HV 6.0 830 HV 6. cold-drawn non-carburized specimens have lesser wear rate than the hot-rolled non-carburized specimens.3.0 800 HV 813 HV 845 HV 6.0 12.0 3 hours 833 HV 0.0 8. Abrasive wear tests 4.0 c 14. the hardness tests showed that there were no distinct differences between the cold-drawn and hot-rolled specimens. The wear rates of carburized and non-carburized test specimens are given in Table 2 and Fig. As a result of increasing hardness.0 8. The carburizing process carried out above the recrystallization temperature softened the cold-drawn specimens by eliminating the dislocation density and rearranging the dislocation array. Therefore. The wear rates of test specimens a) Hot-rolled SAE 8620 Specimens b) Cold-drawn SAE 8620 specimens c) Hot-rolled 16MnCr5 specimens d) Cold-drawn 16MnCr5 specimens.0 3 hours 3 hours 4 hours 0.0 Base Specimen 4.0 290 HV a 14.0 16.0 767 HV 773 HV Base Specimen 4.19. It can be expected that the surface hardnesses of cold-drawn carburized specimens are greater than the hot-rolled carburized specimens. there is no distinct difference determined on the surface hardnesses of the cold-drawn and hot-rolled specimens.  Martensite phase was determined on all of the carburized specimen surfaces by X-ray diffraction analysis.0 10. providing solid solution hardening. . The abrasive wear test results showed that the wear rate of materials varies with the specimen surface hardnesses.0 2 hours 2.0 0 1 2 3 4 5 0 1 Carburizing time (hour) 2 3 4 5 Carburizing time (hour) Fig. Usta / Vacuum 85 (2010) 390e396 I._ Yegen. 5.0 2 hours 2.0 268 HV 16.0 10. and hot-rolled non-carburized specimens by the greater dislocation density forming on the surfaces.0 d 12. Therefore.0 639 HV 8. Determination of martensite phase on carburized surfaces is the sign of cementation processes carried out effectively. Therefore. are greater than core hardnesses.0 808 HV 6.0 0 1 2 3 4 3 hours 4 hours 4 hours 0. As a result of increasing the surface hardness by cold-drawn process. The chemical composition of 16MnCr5 specimens have more Mn.0 793 HV 697 HV 848 HV Base Specimen 4. This results from the carburizing process carried out at 920  C in austenite phase zone which is higher than the recrystallization temperature.0 5 0 1 Carburizing time (hour) 2 3 4 5 Carburizing time (hour) Hot Rolled 16MnCr5 Cold Drawn 16MnCr5 18. the wear rate of test specimens decreased after the cementation processes.0 4 hours 0.0 Cold Drawn SAE 8620 16. there is no distinct difference determined on the surface hardnesses.0 10. The specimens which have greater surface hardnesses are worn less than the others.0 12. Thus.0 10. 5.0 1 hour 1 hour 2 hours 2.0 251 HV 16. The differences were found in non-carburized specimens. the wear resistance of materials increases.0 8. As shown in Table 2.0 12. M. 395 Hot Rolled SAE 8620 18. Cr alloying elements. the highest wear rates or the highest material loses are obtained in non-carburized specimens.

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