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Manufacturing Processes - Case hardening


Manufacturing: Surface Finishing

Finish Machining

Heat Treatment Processes


Heat Treatment - Case hardening

Case-hardened Pliers


Case hardening or Surface hardening is the process of hardening the surface of steel while leaving the interior unchanged. The idea behind case hardening is to have two different types of steel in the same item. This allows a relatively soft, tough core of a component to be combined with a hard (but potentially brittle) surface. Case hardening improves the wear resistance of machine parts without affecting the tough interior of the parts. Many processes are available for surface hardening.

Both carbon and alloy steels are suitable for case-hardening providing their carbon content is low, usually less than 0.2%. Case hardened steel is usually formed by diffusing carbon and/or nitrogen into the outer layer of the steel at high temperature.

The term case hardening is derived from the practicalities of the process itself. The steel work piece (e.g. a firing pin, the head of a rifle bolt, or an engine cam shaft) is placed inside a case packed tight with a carbon-based case hardening compound. This is also known as a carburizing pack. The pack is put inside a hot furnace for a variable length of time. Time and temperature determines how deep into the surface the hardening extends. However, the depth of hardening is ultimately limited by the inability of carbon to diffuse deeply into solid steel and a typical depth of surface hardening with this method is up to 1.5mm.

Another common application of Case hardening is on screws, particularly Self-Drilling Screws. In order for the screws to be able to drill, cut and tap into other materials like steel, the drill point and the forming threads must be harder than the material(s) that it is drilling into. However if the whole screw is uniformly hard, it will become very brittle and it will break easily. This is overcomed by ensuring that only the case is hardened and the core remains relatively soft. For screws and fasteners, case hardening is less complicated as it is achieved by heating and quenching in the form of heat treatment.



- Case hardening

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