Production Machining

NOV 2017

Production Machining - Your access to the precision machining industrial buyer.

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Page 22 of 63 :: 21 Helping Precision Machine Shops Be More ProducƟ ve and Profi table Technical Regulatory Management Quality Technical Regulatory Management Quality Craftsman's Cribsheet Miles Free – Director of Technology and Industry Research NUMBER 60 Decarburization and Your Precision Machine Shop Decarburization on surface layers can affect heat treat- ment and hardness attained on parts. Decarburization also provides evidence of where in a process a defect or imperfection occurred. Most defects in steel workpieces encountered in pre- cision machine shops are longitudinal in nature. While their presence alone is enough to concern us, for the purposes of corrective action, it becomes important to identify where in the process the longitudinal imper- fection fi rst occurred. Visual examination alone is not enough to confi rm the source. Did it occur prior to rolling? During rolling? After rolling? Understanding decarburization and how it presents in a sample can help us to identify where and when in the process the imperfection fi rst occurred. What is Decarburization? The light area (ferrite) surrounding the dark intrusion is decarburization. Note the lack of pearlite in this decarburized (lighter) zone. There is no evidence of scale, indicating that this defect was created during, rather than prior to rolling. "Decarburization is the loss of carbon from a sur- face layer of a carbon-containing alloy due to re- action with one or more chemical substances in a medium that contacts the surface." – Metals Handbook Desk Edition The carbon and alloy steels that we machine contain carbon. In the photo, the carbon is contained in the pearlite (darker) grains. The white grains are ferrite. In an etched sample, decarburization surrounding a defect is identifi ed as a layer of ferrite with very lit- tle, or none of the darker pearlitic structure typically seen in the balance of the material. The black intru- sion in the photo above is the mount material that has fi lled in the crevice of the seam defect. What is Subscale? Subscale is a reaction product of oxygen from the atmosphere with various alloying elements as a re- sult of time at high temperatures. The presence or absence of the subscale is the indicator that helps pinpoint the origin of the defect. For a subscale to be present, the time at temperature must be suffi cient for oxygen to diffuse and react with the material within the defect. According to Felice and Repp, 2,250° F and 15 minutes is necessary to de- velop an identifi able subscale. Lower temperatures would require longer times. Typically, rolling mill re- heat cycles offer plenty of time to develop a subscale in a prior existing defect. However, for defects that are created during rolling, the limited time at tem- perature and the decreasing temperatures on cool- ing make formation of subscales unlikely. Reading Decarb and Subscale to Understand the Defect Decarburization is time and temperature depen- dent. This means that its relative depth and severity are clues as to time at temperature, though inter- pretation requires experience and understanding of the differences in appearance from grade to grade based on carbon content. Symmetrical Decarburization If the decarburization is symmetrical this is an indi- cation that the defect was present in billet or bloom prior to reheat and rolling. Oxygen in the high tem- perature atmosphere of the reheat furnace de- pletes the carbon equally from both sides of the pre-existing defect. Asymmetrical Decarburization Decarburization that is obviously asymmetrical indi- cates that the defect is mechanical in nature and was induced some time during the hot rolling process. Continuous improvement requires taking root-cause corrective action. Identifying the root cause is critical. When we encounter longitudinal linear defects in our steel products, using a micro to characterize the na- ture of the decarburization and presence or absence of subscale provides important evidence as to when, where and how in the process the defect originated. The gray material adjacent to defect within the white decarburized area is sub- scale. This subscale is evidence that the crack was present on the bloom prior to reheat for rolling. All Craftsman's Cribsheets are available for viewing and download at

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