Tribological performance of steel materials can be substantially enhanced by various thermal surface hardening processes. For relatively low-carbon steel alloys, case carburization is often used to improve surface performance and durability. If the carbon content of steel is high enough (>0.4%), thermal treatments such as induction, flame, laser, etc. can produce adequate surface hardening without the need for surface compositional change. This paper presents an experimental study of the use of friction stir processing (FSP) as a means to hardened surface layer in AISI 4140 steel. The impacts of this surface hardening process on the friction and wear performance were evaluated under both dry and lubricated contact conditions in reciprocating sliding. FSP produced the same level of hardening and superior tribological performance when compared to conventional thermal treatment, using only 10% of the energy and without the need for quenching treatments. With FSP surface hardness of about 7.8GPa (62 Rc) was achieved while water quenching conventional heat treatment produced about 7.5GPa (61 Rc) hardness. Microstructural analysis showed that both FSP and conventional heat treatment produced martensite. Although the friction behavior for FSP treated surfaces and the conventional heat treatment were about the same, the wear in FSP processed surfaces was reduced by almost 2× that of conventional heat treated surfaces. The superior performance is attributed to the observed grain refinement accompanying the FSP treatment in addition to the formation of martensite. As it relates to tribological performance, this study shows FSP to be an effective, highly energy efficient, and environmental friendly (green) alternative to conventional heat treatment for steel.
Wear – Elsevier
Published: May 1, 2015
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