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Hardenability (not the same property as hardness) is a measure of the depth to which a
particular steel will harden (i.e. from martensite) when quenched from its austenitizing
temperature. Data are represented by a plot of HRC Hardness vs. Distance from the
quenched end (related to cooling rate) of a standard specimen 1 inch in diameter by 4
inches long with a means for hanging it in a vertical position. From such a plot the
hardness of a piece of that steel with a different geometry can be predicted by matching
the cooling rate.

Executive Summary
The Jominy End Quench Test ASTM A 255 measures Hardenability of steels.
Hardenability is a measure of the capacity of steel to be hardened in depth when
quenched from its austenitizing temperature. Hardenability of steel should not be
confused with the hardness of steel. The Hardness of steel refers to its ability to resist
deformation when a load is applied, whereas hardenability refers to its ability to be
hardened to a particular depth under a particular set of conditions. Information gained
from this test is necessary in selecting the proper combination of alloy steel and heat
treatment to minimize thermal stresses and distortion when manufacturing components of
various sizes.
To perform the Jominy Test: First, a sample specimen cylinder either 100mm in length
and 25mm in diameter, or alternatively, 102mm by 25.4mm is obtained. Second, the steel
sample is normalized to eliminate differences in microstructure due to previous forging,
and then it is austerities. This is usually at a temperature of 800 to 900C. Next, the
specimen is rapidly transferred to the test machine, where it is held vertically and sprayed
with a controlled flow of water onto one end of the sample. This cools the specimen from
one end, simulating the effect of quenching a larger steel component in water. Because
the cooling rate decreases as one moves further from the quenched end, you can measure
the effects of a wide range of cooling rates from vary rapid at the quenched end to air
cooled at the far end.
Next, the specimen is ground flat along its length to a depth of .38mm (15 thousandths of
an inch) to remove decarburized material. The hardness is measured at intervals along its
length beginning at the quenched end. For alloyed steels an interval of 1.5mm is
commonly used whereas with carbon steels an interval of .75mm is typically employed.
And finally the Rockwell or Vickers hardness values are plotted versus distance from the
quenched end.
The Jominy Test data illustrates the effect of alloying and microstructure on the hardenability
of steels. Commonly used elements that affect the hardenability of steel are carbon, boron,
Chromium, Manganese, Molybdenum, Silicon, and Nickel.


Carbon is primarily a hardening agent in steel, although to a small degree it also increases
hardenability by slowing the formation of pearlite and ferrite. But this affect is too small
to be used as a control factor for hardenability.
Boron can be an effective alloy for improving hardenability at levels as low as .0005%.
Boron is most effective in steels of 0.25% Carbon or less. Boron combines readily with
both Nitrogen and Oxygen and in so doing its effect on hardenability is sacrificed.
Therefore Boron must remain in solution in order to be affective. Aluminum and
Titanium are commonly added as "gettering" agents to react with the Oxygen and
Nitrogen in preference to the Boron.
Slowing the phase transformation of austenite to ferrite and pearlite increases the
hardenability of steels. Chromium, Molybdenum, Manganese, Silicon, Nickel and
Vanadium all affect the hardenability of steels in this manner.
Determine the Jominy curve for 4140 and/or 1050 steel.

Austenitize - Heat a bar of 4140 steel at 843C (1550F) for 1 hour. Heat
a bar of 1050 steel at 910C (1670F) for 1 hour. To prevent or at least
minimize scaling, use either a reducing atmosphere (cast iron or charcoal
chips), or wrap the sample in stainless steel sheet.


Meanwhile, adjust the water-quenching device so that the stream of water

rises to a free height of 2-1/2 inches above the orifice without a bar in
position. The temperature of the water should be between 4.5 and 29.5C
(40 and 85F). Turn off the water with the quick opening valve and wipe
off the specimen support.


Remove the bar from the furnace, place it in the support, and turn on the
water. This maneuver should require no more than 5 seconds.


Maintain the water stream for at least 10 minutes with a minimum of air
movement. Remove the bar and water quench.


Grind 2 flat surfaces, 180, apart to a depth of at least 0.015 inch.


Measure the depth of the flats from the edge. Use calipers.


Cut off the lip of the sample on the cut-off wheel.


Mount the sample in the Equitron device.



Measure the hardness (HRC) along the flats at 1/16-inch internals. Start at
the quench end.


Plot Hardness vs. Distance to obtain the Jominy curve. Plot both curves
on the same plot.


Cut the bar on the cut-off wheel at the midpoint.


Measure the transverse hardness (HRC). Plot the results.


Polish the other side of the cut bar.


Take photomicrograph of the polished surface.


Polish one flat and look at the microstructure as a function of Jominy

distance. Take photomicrographs.

Hardenability of steel is defined as the susceptibility of the steel to hardening when
quenched, and is related to the depth and distribution of hardness across a cross section.
There are various factors which effect hardenability of steels such as austenite grain size,
carbon content and alloying elements percentage. Hardenability property is so important
that a simple test is essential to measure it. There are various methods to measure
hardenability of steel such as Grossman critical diameter method, Jominy end quench
test, estimation of hardenability from chemical composition and Fracture test .The
Jominy end-quench test, though inelegant from a scientific standpoint, fills this need. In
this paper we discussed about the significance of hardenability and role of Jominy test in
measurement of hardenability

Plot the Jominy curve and determine if the results fall within the specified
band. Are both flats the same distance from the edge of the bar?


Based on the transverse plot, determine the cooling rates across the bar
where you cut it.


How does the transverse plot correlate with the photomicrograph?


How does the Jominy curve correlate with the microstructure of the
polished flat?



Askeland, D.R., The Science and Engineering of Materials, Boston, MA:

PWS Engineering, 1984, pp. 372-376.


Callister, W.D., Materials Science and Engineering, New York, NY: J.

Wiley & Sons, 1985, pp. 227-235.


Van Vlack, L.H., Elements of Materials Science and Engineering, 5th ed.,
Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, pp. 469-478.


ASTM Standard A 225.


Atlas of Isothermal Transformations Diagrams, USS, Pittsburgh, PA,



Practical Data for Metallurgists, The Timken Company, Steel Division,

Canton, OH, 1977.


Designation: A 255- 67 (Reapproved 1979)1

Standard Method of

This standard is issued under the fixed designation A 255; the number immediately following the designation indicates
the year of original adoption or, in the case of revision, the year of last revision. A number in parentheses indicates the
year of last reapproval.
A superscript epsilon () indicates an editorial change since the last revision or reapproval.

This method has been approved for use by agencies of the Department of Defense to replace method 711.1
of Federal Test Method Standard No. 151b and for listing in the DoD Index of Specifications and

Note - Section 2 was added editorially and subsequent sections renumbered in June 1984.
1. Scope
1.1 This method covers the procedure for determining the hardenability of steel by the
end quench or Jominy test. The test consists of water quenching one end of a cylindrical
test specimen 1 in. (25 mm) in diameter and measuring to what extent from the quenched
end the steel hardens.
1.2 Hardenability is a measure of the depth to which steel will harden when quenched
from its austenitizing temperature (see Appendix Xl). It is measured quantitatively,
usually by noting the extent or depth of hardening of a standard size and shape of test
specimen in a standardized quench. In the end-quench test the depth of hardening is the
distance along the specimen from the quenched end for a given degree of hardening.
2. Applicable Documents
2.1 ASTM Standards: E 18 Test Methods for Rockwell Hardness and Rockwell
Superficial Hardness of Metallic Materials2.
E 112 Methods of Determining Average Grain Size3.
3. Apparatus
3.1 Support for Test Specimen-A fixture for supporting the test specimen vertically so
that the lower end of the specimen is a distance of 1/2 in. (12.7 mm) above the orifice of
the water-quenching device. A satisfactory type of support for the standard 1-in. (25-mm)
specimen is shown in Fig. 1.
Note: 1-A suitable support for other sizes and shapes of specimens is shown in Fig. Xl.1.
3.2 Water-Quenching Device-A water-quenching device of suitable capacity to provide
a vertical stream of water that can be controlled to a height of 2 1/2 in. (63.5 mm) when
passing through an orifice 1/2 in. (12.7 mm) in diameter. A tank of sufficient capacity
with a small pump and control valves will be found satisfactory. The water-supply line
shall also be provided with a quick opening valve.

Test Specimens

4.1 Forged Specimens-The test specimen shall be approximately 1 in. (25 mm) in
diameter by 3 or 4 in. (76 or 102 mm) in length, with means for hanging it in a vertical
position for end quenching. Dimensions of the preferred specimen and of two optional
specimens (Note 2) are given in Figs. 2, 3, and 4. The specimen shall be machined from

ASTM Standard A225. pp. 69-80

a bar previously normalized and of such size as to permit the removal of all
decarburization in machining to 1-in. round. The end of the specimen to be water cooled
shall have a reasonably smooth finish, preferably produced by grinding. Normalizing
may be waived by agreement between the supplier and the purchaser. The previous
thermal history of the specimen tested shall always be recorded.
4.2 Cast SpecimensAs an alternate method the specimens may be cast during the
pouring of the steel. A graphite or metal mold may be used to form an overlength
specimen approximately 1-in. diameter which shall be cut to the standard specimen size;
or the mold may be used to form a 1 1/4 in. (32-mm) diameter specimen which shall be
machined to the final specimen size. Cast tests need not be normalized.
NOTE 2Other sizes and shapes of test specimens are described in Appendix X2.
5. Procedure
5.1 HeatingPlace the specimen in a furnace which is at the specified austenitizing
temperature (see Appendix Xl Table Xl.1) and hold at this temperature for 30 min. In
production testing slightly longer times up to 35 min. may be used without appreciably
affecting results. It is important to heat the specimen in such an atmosphere that
practically no scaling and a minimum of decarburization takes place. This may be
accomplished by heating the specimen in a vertical position in a container with an easily
removable cover containing a layer of cast-iron chips with the bottom face of the
specimen resting on the chips.
5.1.1 As an alternative method, place the specimen in an upright tube attached to a flat
base, both of a heat-resistant metal, with the collar projecting for a tong hold. Place a
disk of graphite or carbon, or a layer of carbonaceous material such as charcoal, in the
bottom of the tube to prevent scaling.
5.1.2 For a particular fixture and furnace, determine the time for heating the specimen
to the quenching temperature by inserting a thermocouple into a hole drilled axially in the
top of the specimen. Repeat this procedure periodically, for example, once a month, for
each combination of fixture and furnace.
5.2 Quenching-Adjust the water-quenching device so that the stream of water rises to
a free height of 2 1/2 in. (63.5 mm) above the 1/2 in. (12.7 mm) orifice, without the
specimen in position. The support for the specimen shall be dry at the beginning of each
test. Then place the heated specimen in the support so that its bottom face is 1/2 in.
above the orifice, and turn on the water by means of the quick-opening valve. The time
between removal of the specimen from the furnace and the beginning of the quench
should not be more than 5s. Direct the stream of water, at a temperature of 40 to 85F
(4.5 to 29.5C) against the bottom face of the specimen for not less than 10 min. So far
as possible, maintain a condition of still air around the specimen during cooling. If the
specimen is not cold when removed from the fixture, immediately quench it in water.
5.3 Hardness MeasurementMake the hardness readings in terms of Rockwell C on
the test specimen in steps of 1/16 in. (1.59 mm) to the 1-in. distance from the quenched
end and in steps at the discretion of the operator from that point. Number the series of
hardness readings from the quenched end of the specimen. Make the hardness readings
on surfaces that are mutually parallel flat surfaces, 180 apart, ground length-wise, of the
specimen. Grind the flat surfaces to a minimum depth of 0.015 in. (0.38 mm). When a
flat surface is used as a base, remove previous indentations by grinding. Grinding can be
omitted if the bed of the testing fixture is grooved to accommodate the indentations.
5.3.1 The exact position of each hardness reading with respect to the quenched end of
the specimen must be known. The use of a fixture to locate indentations precisely and
assure accuracy of comparisons between tests is imperative. Take care to ensure no

ASTM Standard A225. pp. 69-80

vertical movement in the assembly of test specimen, anvil, and elevating screw when the
major load is applied.
5.3.2 Carry out the grinding operation for preparing the flat surfaces with great care.
The last passes in grinding should be very light to assure flatness. To ensure against
reporting hardnesses taken on surfaces tempered by grinding, the following etching
procedure is recommended: Etchant Solution No. 1Use 5 parts nitric acid (HNO3) (sp gr 1.42) and 95
parts water by volume. Etchant Solution No. 2Use equal parts of hydrochloric acid (HCl) (sp gr
1.19) and water by volume. Etching ProcedureWash the specimen in hot water. Etch it in solution No. 1
until black. Then wash the specimen again in hot water. Immerse it in solution No. 2 for
3 s and then wash it in hot water. Dry the specimen in an air blast.
5.3.3 The presence of darkened areas in the martensitic zone indicates that tempering
has occurred. Remove all evidence of tempering before making hardness tests. This may
be accomplished by resurfacing and re-etching, or by preparing new flat surfaces.
5.3.4 For general statements regarding the use of test blocks and for surface conditions
reference should be made to 3.6 and 4.4 respectively of Test Methods E 18.
Note 3.A fixture for holding the specimen in making the Rockwell hardness
measurements will facilitate positioning the specimen for each determination at intervals
of 1/16 in., expedite the test, and will ensure accuracy. There are several fixtures
available that have been designed particularly for this purpose. Resting the specimen in a
V-block is not permitted.
6. Plotting Test Results
6.1 Test results should be plotted on a standard hardenability chart prepared for this
purpose, in which the ordinates represent Rockwell hardness values on the C scale and
the abscissae represent the distance from the quenched end of the specimen at which the
hardness determinations were made. The chart also contains a scale for plotting the
cooling rate in degrees Fahrenheit per second at 1300F (705C), which provides a means
for making direct comparisons between tests of steels using the 1-in. (25-mm) diameter
round specimen and specimens of other sizes and shapes as shown in Appendix X2. A
facsimile of the standard ASTM hardenability chart 4 on which typical hardenability
curves have been plotted is shown in Fig. 5.
7. Index of Hardenability
7.1 The hardenability of a steel will be designated by a code indicating the distance or
distances from the quenched end of the specimen within which the designated hardness is
NOTE 4: ExampleAs an example, an alloy steel containing 0.44 % carbon could be
specified to have a hardenability of J50 = 7, which means that the minimum requirement
for this steel would be a Rockwell hardness of C50 at a distance of 7/16 in. from the
quenched end. If both minimum and maximum limits were required, the index of
hardenability might be specified as J50 = 3 to 12.
8. Report
8.1 The report shall include the following information, which may be recorded on the
ASTM hardenability chart:
8.1.1 Previous thermal history of the specimen tested, including the temperature of

ASTM Standard A225. pp. 69-80

8.1.2 Chemical composition,

8.1.3 ASTM grain size (McQuaid-Ehn) as determined by Methods E112, unless
otherwise indicated,
8.1.4 Hardening temperature used in the test, and
8.1.5 A prominent notation on the standard hardenability chart if any of the test
specimens listed in Appendix X2 are used.
NOTE 5-The cooling rates on the chart correspond to the distances from the quenched
end for the 1-in. (25 mm) round specimen only, and will be incorrect for the other
specimens shown in Appendix X2, except Fig. X2. 1. The cooling rates for different
steels show some variation. The approximate values shown on the chart are the average
results of tests run on three steels.

This method is under the jurisdiction of ASTM Committee A-1 on Steel, Stainless Steel and Related
Alloys and is the direct responsibility of Subcommittee A 0-15 on Bar Steels.
Current edition accepted May 24, 1967. Originally issued 1942. Replaces A 255-64.
Annual Book of ASTM Standards, Vol 03.01.
Annual Book of ASTM Standards, Vol 03.03.
Standard ASTM Hardenability Charts (8 by 11 in.) are available from ASTM Headquarters, 1916
Race St., Philadelphia, PA 19103. Request Adjunct No. 12-102550-01.


ASTM Standard A225. pp. 69-80


ASTM Standard A225. pp. 69-80


ASTM Standard A225. pp. 69-80


ASTM Standard A225. pp. 69-80


ASTM Standard A225. pp. 69-80


ASTM Standard A225. pp. 69-80


ASTM Standard A225. pp. 69-80


ASTM Standard A225. pp. 69-80


ASTM Standard A225. pp. 69-80


ASTM Standard A225. pp. 69-80


ASTM Standard A 225. p. 178

Atlas of Isothermal Transformations Diagrams, p.19


Practical Data for Metallurgists, p. 51


Practical Data for Metallurgists, p. 51


Practical Data for Metallurgists, pp. 86-87


Practical Data for Metallurgists, pp. 86-87


Practical Data for Metallurgists, pp. 88-89

Atlas of Isothermal Transformations Diagrams, p. 182