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Shot Peening Overview

I. Reasons for Shot Peening


Why Shot Peening?
Shot peening is a process of cold working a part that increases its resistance to metal fatigue and some forms of
stress corrosion. It involves bombarding the surface of the desired part with metallic (usually steel), glass, or
ceramic beads with enough force to dent the surface. When done properly, it can increase the lifetime of some
parts by up to 1000% or more.
What Does It Physically Do?
Shot peening causes plastic deformation in the surface of the peened part. This relieves surface tensile stresses
that may have been introduced in machining the part, and more importantly it introduces a beneficial
compressive residual stress that serves to strengthen the surface of the part. Shot peening is also occasionally
used to control or alter the shape of thin parts.
II. Compressive Residual Stress
What Is Compressive Residual Stress?
A residual stress is any stress left over in the material after the source of the stress has been removed.
Compressive residual stresses happen when the shot creates dimples in the surface by displacing the material
sideways. The atoms just below the surface resist this displacement, creating compressive lateral stress that
attempts to restore the surface to its original state. This stress hardens the surface and resists crack formation
and propagation.
Depth & Magnitude of Compressive Residual Stress.
The depth and magnitude of the compressive residual stress layer depends on many factors, including shot type,
intensity, coverage, and the part hardness. The depth of the compressive layer can range from < 0.002 (0.05
mm) for light peening applications up to > 0.035 (0.875 mm) for high intensity peening of soft materials. The
maximum compressive residual stress will occur below the surface and typically ranges between 600 1500+
MPa. Harder materials and higher peening intensities produce greater maximum residual stresses.
Measuring Compressive Residual Stress.
There are many ways to measure the compressive residual stress after shot peening a part. These are:
X-ray diffraction (ASTM certified)
Hole drilling and strain gauge measurement (ASTM certified)
Neutron diffraction
Speckle pattern interferometry
Ultrasonic measurements
Magnetic measurements
Sectioning

III. Sorting and Reclaiming Shot


Depending on the type of shot and the intensity its blasted at, the amount of shot that is damaged in a single
blasting cycle can range from ~1% to 10% or more. Because the cost of shot is one of the major expenses in
shot peening, reclaiming the shot is a valuable and effective measure in keeping shot peening costs under
control. There are two main processes for sorting good used shot from bad: spiral separators and mesh sieve
separators.
Spiral separators use gravity to sort round from broken or irregular shot and are typically the first step in
reclaiming spent shot. The shot is introduced at the top of a banked metal slide that spirals down a central shaft.
The spiral consists of an inner flight which is positioned inside and above an outer flight. As the shot slides
down the spiral, it picks up speed and moves to the outside of the spiral via centrifugal force. Since round
material will flow faster than irregular or broken material, it will gain enough speed fall off the edge of the inner
flight and be collected in the outer flight. The slower irregular particles remain on the inner flight and are
collected at the bottom to be discarded.
Mesh sieve separators are necessary to resort and classify the recycled shot into the appropriate SAE size
categories for used shot. SAE specifications use ASTM sieve numbers and require that used shot have an 80%
retention rate on the sieve that has openings that are the same size as the number indicated by the shot type.
Thus at least 80% of s330 shot needs to be retained on a sieve that has openings of 0.0330 inches (ASTM #30).
Rescreening of shot is done with both a top and bottom screen to remove any over and undersized particles that
make it to the classifier. If more than one size of shot is used in a process, additional screens can be added to
separate the various size classifications. With 4 screens, up to three different shot sizes can be sorted provided
no more than 1 size classification is skipped between the different shot sizes.
IV. Shot Peening Specifications
What Are the Important Shot Peening Parameters?
The three main shot peening parameters are shot size/type, intensity, and coverage.
Understanding Shot Sizes and Types.
There are three main types of shot used in shot peening processes: glass or ceramic beads, steel shot, and cut
wire shot. Glass and ceramic beads are typically used for light peening applications. Glass bead sizes are
usually specified by the letters AGB followed by a number that represents the mean diameter in microns
divided by 10. Thus AGB-30 is on average 300 microns in diameter. Ceramic shot may be used instead of glass
bead due to the fact that it is harder, allowing for significantly greater reuse. Ceramic bead is frequently
classified by the minimum diameter in microns, thus AZB-150 indicates that the smallest size bead is 150
microns in diameter. The size range allowed extends up to the next largest size classification.
Steel shot is the most common material used for shot peening. It can come in a variety of sizes and hardnesses.
Steel shot is classified by the size of the opening in the mesh that retains 80-85% of the shot. This value is given
in ten thousandths of an inch. Thus for s-230 shot, the mesh that retains 85% has openings that are 0.0230
wide. Because of this, the average diameter of the shot is typically equal to one mesh size larger, i.e. s-230 shot
has a mean diameter that is roughly 0.0280. Steel shot can have 4 different Rockwell C hardness
classifications: S (40-51), M (47-56), L (54-61), H ( 60). M and L are the most common.
Cut wire shot is often preferred over steel shot due to the fact that it lasts longer, generates less dust, and has a
greater uniformity in size. It is made by taking wire of the desired type and cutting it in lengths that are

approximately equal to the wire diameter. Cut wire shot can be bought as-is (with sharp edges), conditioned
(rounded edges), and special conditioned (nearly spherical). It is also possible to get cut wire shot made from
different metals such as zinc or copper. Cut wire shot is designated by the diameter of the wire used in
thousandths of an inch. Thus CW-47 represents shot made from a wire that was 0.047 in diameter.
What Is Intensity?
Shot peening intensity is defined by the amount of energy (in the form of compressive residual stress) that is
deposited to an industry standard test sample known as the Almen strip. When one side of an Almen strip is
peened, the surface stresses cause the strip to arc. To determine the intensity, the arc height is plotted against the
time spent peening. The intensity is defined as the point on the curve where doubling the peening time results in
a 10% increase in height. The value is typically reported as the arc height (as measured by a calibrated Almen
gauge) in thousandths of an inch followed by the type of Almen strip used. For example, if the gauge measures
a deflection of 0.008 on an A type strip, this is usually reported as an intensity of 8A.
How Is Intensity Measured?
To determine shot intensity, four or more Almen strips of the appropriate type are peened with successively
longer times. The last strip should have an arc height that is less than 10% greater than a strip peened for half
that amount of time. Once enough strips have been peened, a best fit curve should be drawn for the data points.
This can be easily done with spreadsheets. The intensity is defined as the point on the curve where doubling the
peening time results in a 10% increase in the arc height. This point can be easily determined using formulas in
the spreadsheet with the best fit curve. The time it takes to reach this intensity is called the saturation time.
Typically, once the intensity is determined, the test is run again at the saturation time and at double the
saturation time to confirm the measurement.
The placement of the Almen strip is also important for intensity measurements. The strips should be mounted in
the same position and orientation relative to the shot nozzle as the piece to be peened. This insures that the
intensity that the part experiences will be measured with the Almen strip.
Types of Almen Strips & Their Use
There are three main types of Almen strips along with a couple of specialty strips for specific applications. The
main Almen strips are A strips, which are used for a majority of peening applications, N strips, which are
typically used for low intensity applications, and C strips for high intensity applications. There also exist ministrips for small and hard to reach applications and aluminum strips for paint stripping on airplanes.
Almen Intensity vs. Velocity
It has been long known that the Almen intensity is linearly related to the perpendicular component of the
velocity of the shot that impacts it. The exact formula depends on the shot size and type as well as the type of
Almen strip used, but it is otherwise independent of any other variables. Because of this, if one accurately
knows the shot velocity and angle at the part, the Almen intensity can be predicted to roughly 0.0005.
A detailed analysis of how the Almen intensity varies with shot velocity can be found in the report.
Intensity Parameter Space for Comco Blasters
Because of our ability to accurately measure the velocity of different types of shot when using Comco blasters,
it is possible to create charts that allow one to easily determine what pressure and distance a nozzle needs to be
placed from a part to peen at a desired Almen intensity. These charts can be found for AccuFlos for glass bead
and small steel shot in the following reports:

What Is Coverage?
Coverage is the amount of surface that is dimpled by shot peening. 100% coverage is achieved when the entire
surface has at least 1 dent covering it. In practice, due to the random nature of where the shot impacts on a
surface, full (100%) coverage is defined as when > 98% of the surface is dimpled. Determining the time and
amount of shot necessary for full coverage can only be done empirically, since it depends on the shot intensity,
the material properties of the shot, the flow rate of the shot, and the material properties of the part to be peened.
Because the placement of individual shot on the part is random, there is a significant amount of overlap of the
dents. This means that for coverages less than 100%, the amount of surface covered increases along an inverse
exponential relation until full coverage is reached. Thus if peening for 1 minute produces 64% coverage,
peening for two minutes will result in only 87% coverage. The total peening time for full (> 98%) coverage will
have to be 4 minutes. However, once the time for 100% coverage is determined, greater coverages are achieved
by increasing the peening time linearly with respect to the desired coverage. Thus, 150% coverage would be
achieved at 6 minutes and 200% coverage at 8 minutes for the above example.
As a general rule, 100% coverage can be achieved faster with smaller shot. This is because even though the
diameter of the indentations is smaller, the number of indentations increases at a faster rate. Rough estimates of
the amount of shot necessary to reach 100% coverage are given in the following reports:
How to Measure Coverage
There are several methods by which to check whether 100% coverage has been achieved. The first, and most
common, is to visually inspect the part under a microscope using an objective in the 10x 30x range with the
larger magnification used for smaller shot sizes. Here the user is simply looking to see if the entire area of the
part under magnification has been dimpled. If so, 100% coverage is assumed. If the entire viewable surface is
not dimpled, one can attempt to calculate the percentage surface peened to develop a coverage curve, or the part
can just be peened for a longer time and the inspection repeated.
The second method is to use an imaging device which takes a picture of the surface and automatically calculates
the percentage covered. These devices have the benefits of being fast, eliminating human error, and they can
often be used in spots that would be hard for a traditional microscope to reach, such as the bottom of a hole.
A third method is to coat the part with a thin coating of tracer fluid (often one that fluoresces under a black
light) that is removed when the object is peened. By measuring the amount of fluid left after a peening
application, one can easily determine easily if 100% coverage has been achieved. If using this method, one must
ensure that wherever there is a dent, the tracer fluid has been removed and wherever the fluid is removed, a dent
is present; otherwise this method may give erroneous results.

Determining Proper Intensity and Coverage for a Part Specification


When deciding on a shot peening specification for a part, the desire is to impart the necessary fatigue resistance
in a cost effective manner. Although many theoretical models and numerical simulations exist to predict
parameters such as surface roughness, coverage, and most importantly the compressive residual stress profile,
the models that use these (and other) variables to predict average increase in fatigue life are often unreliable.
Thus the only way to accurately determine shot peening specifications is to peen a large number of test samples
with various intensities and coverages for stress testing. This involves placing the peened parts (or suitable test

proxies) under a cyclic stress and measuring the amount of cycles until the part breaks. This is typically
compared against the number of cycles that an unpeened sample can withstand. When a sufficient number of
peening parameters have been tested, an informed decision can be made as to the shot type, shot size, intensity
and coverage that is appropriate for the part.
V. Miscellaneous Shot Peening Info
Shot Peening and Shape Modification
Shot peening can be a useful tool in modifying or correcting the shape of small or thin parts that have been
deformed due to stress resulting from welding or tooling. By peening the weld or the tooled area, these stresses
can be relieved and the part will relax back to its intended shape. Care should be taken to avoid over-peening as
the introduction of too much compressive residual stress can warp the part in the opposite direction of the initial
deformation.
Shot Peening and Surface Roughness
Because shot peening causes plastic deformation in the surface of the part, it creates a roughness profile that is
linearly proportional to the velocity/intensity of the shot. As a general rule, larger shot sizes result in greater
roughness at lower velocities as shown in figure 1 below.
Shot Peening Surface Roughness on 304 Stainless Steel
160

4
s230

140

3.5
s70

120

100

2.5

80

60

1.5

100 m GB
50 m GB

40

35 m GB

20

Ra (microns)

Ra (uin.)

s110

1
0.5

0
0

25

50

75

100

125

150

175

200

225

Shot Velocity (m/s)

Figure 1. Surface roughness vs. shot velocity.


Furthermore, since velocity is linearly proportional to Almen intensity, a linear relationship can be drawn
between intensity and surface roughness. Interestingly, when plotted against Almen intensity, it appears that the
roughness is mainly dependent on the type of shot as opposed to the size (figure 2).

The Correlation of Almen Intensity and Surface Roughness on 304 Stainless Steel
160

4
s230 A

140

s110 N

s110 A

3.5

s70 N

100

2.5

80

60

1.5

50 m GB N

40

Ra (microns)

Ra (uin.)

s70 A

120

20

0.5
100 m GB N

0
0

12

15

18

21

24

27

30

Almen Intensity

Figure 2. Surface roughness vs. Almen intensity. The type of Almen strip is noted next to the shot type.
Dangers of Over-peening
Although shot peening is used to strengthen parts and increase their fatigue resistance, over peening can have
the opposite effect. Over-peening can happen either by using too high of an intensity, peening for too long of a
time, or a combination of both. This can cause extremely localized high stress conditions (stress risers) and even
create fatigue cracks that will dramatically reduce the fatigue life of a part, even to below the unpeened
condition. Furthermore, excessive peening can lead to the erosion of the peened surface, permanently damaging
the part.
Precision Peening
Precision peening is the ability to peen only on the surface areas of a part that have been specified for shot
peening while ensuring that 100% of the shot impacts the targeted part. It greatly reduces or even eliminates the
need for masking areas that are not to be peened and reduces the amount of shot needed for a specification,
saving in initial cost and in waste generated. Furthermore, precision peening allows parts with complex
geometries and hard-to-reach areas, such as inside long bores, to be peened with uniform intensities and
coverages.