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Diffusion Alloys Limited

Coating at the Core


(Boronizing, Boriding)
Boronising and Diffusion Alloys
Boronising, sometimes referred to as boriding, is a thermochemical surface hardening method in
which boron atoms are diffused into the parent metal, forming a hard interstitial boron compound
at the surface. The resulting surface boride may be in the form of either a single phase or a double
phase boride layer. The case layer has a hard, slippery surface capable of performing at higher
temperatures than most surface treatments. Diffusion Alloys has extended its boronising
qualifications in the demanding turbomachinery market (for example of steam turbine tripin
blades and nozzle rings) into more general industrial applications such as cast iron glass
bottle moulds, plungers, tooling and dies.
Properties and Uses of Boronising
Boronising can be carried out on most ferrous materials e.g. structural steels, case hardened,
tempered, tool and stainless steels, cast steels, ductile and sintered steels and also air hardened
steels. The exceptions to these are steels containing aluminium and silicon. In addition, materials
such as nickel-based alloys, cobalt-based alloys and molybdenum can be boronised. Nickel alloy can be
boronised without sacrificing corrosion resistance, as well as producing extreme hard surface wear
Boride Coating Properties:

High coating layer hardness

- 1600-2400 HV on steel alloys
- 900-1600 HV on Ni-based alloys

High resistance to:

- abrasive wear (typical thickness of ~ 25 to ~ 125 m)
- adhesive wear (typical thickness of < ~ 25 m)
- erosive wear

High resistance to molten materials (Aluminium,

Zinc, Glass) and acids (HCI, H2SO4, H3PO4)

Good thermal resistance

Excellent self-lubricating properties

High hot hardness

Superior bonding strength (adhesion) compared to conventional

hard material coatings due to the diffusion structure

Microstructure of a DAL
Boride diffusion coating on
an alloy steel component

Reg No. 1613918 (England)

Cert No: FM 29277

BS EN ISO 9001

Diffusion Alloys Limited

Coating at the Core

Due to wear/performance benefits provided by the boronised layer, combined with the broad
range of compatible substrates and the cost-effective nature of the process, boronising is used
successfully for general wear resistance of carbon steel components. Additionally, due to its
temperature and wear resistance, boronising is also a good choice for certain tooling applications.
Typical parts for boronising include:

Tools and dies for metal forming

Moulds for glass bottle production
Pump and valve components
Oil & gas field tubing (OCTG)
Plungers and rollers
Gears and shafts
Burner nozzles
Steam turbine blades, tri-pin blades and nozzle rings

Diffusion Alloys Boronising Facilities and Processes

For the application of boride diffusion coatings, we operate at our facility in Hatfield six furnaces
utilising fifteen retorts operating under protective atmospheres.
DAL carries out both pack and slurry boronising, providing boride diffusion coatings for:

Ferrous materials
Nickel alloys
Titanium alloys
Sintered tungsten carbides

By varying coating temperature (850C-950C), process duration and pack/slurry composition; we

are able to tailor the thickness of our boride coatings to meet individual customer requirements
and apply the coating only where required.
Pack Cementation
Pack cementation is our most widely used diffusion
coating process. For boronising, it is performed in
a reducing/inert gas atmosphere retort.
Components to be diffusion coated are embedded
in a powder mixture, referred to as the pack or
compound. This powder mixture consists of a
boron source, an activator and a filler. On heating
to the coating temperature the activator reacts
with the source element which is transferred to
the component substrate surface by gradient
of activity (i.e. partial pressure). The gas
Reducing/inert gas atmosphere retort
decomposes at the substrate surface depositing
the coating element and releasing the halogen
activator. The activator returns to the pack and reacts with the source element again. This transfer
process continues until the required temperature - time diffusion coating profile is completed. Several
methods are employed to mask areas on components which must not be diffusion coated during pack
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Diffusion Alloys Limited

Coating at the Core

Slurry Process
Diffusion Alloys boride diffusion coating slurries
consist of a reactive pack powder mixture to
which water is added until the desired viscosity is
achieved. Dependent upon the latter, the slurries
can be applied to components either by painting
or by pasting. The slurry process is utilised both
for carrying out local diffusion coating repair and
for diffusion coating specific areas of components.
After application, slurries are dried overnight.
Masking of areas not to be diffusion coated is a
simple case of ensuring that no slurry is applied
to these areas. This is readily achieved using
inexpensive tape which is removed prior to the
slurry diffusion coating thermal cycle.

Boronised Glass bottle moulds for wear resistance

In our Hatfield factories, we have fifteen reducing/inert gas atmosphere retorts with six associated
furnaces suitable for applying boronising. Various coating compounds are available enabling DAL
to offer tailor-made solutions for customer requirements. Stringent quality control procedures
are in place to guarantee product quality with representative and strategically located test pieces
accompanying every diffusion coating run to facilitate in-process control and certification.

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