Volume 8, Issue 6 (June 2011)
Effect of Temperature and Pressure on Wear Properties of Ion Nitrided AISI 316 and 409 Stainless Steels
Stainless steels are widely used in chemical and other industries due to their corrosion resistance. However, because of their low hardness and wear properties, their applications are limited. Many attempts have been made to increase the surface hardness of these materials by using plasma techniques. Plasma nitriding is distinguished by its effectiveness, and for presenting a relatively low cost and being a clean process, producing hard surface layers on stainless steels. Aiming to verify the influence of the temperature and pressure on the modified resultant layers, samples of AISI 316 and 409 stainless steels were plasma nitrided in two different temperatures (450 and 500°C) and pressures of 400, 500, and 600 Pa for 5 h. After the nitriding treatment, the layers were analyzed by means of optical microscopy and wear tests. Wear tests were conducted in a fixed-ball micro-wear machine without lubrication. After the plasma nitriding treatment on AISI 316 and 409 samples, homogeneous and continuous layers were produced and their thicknesses increased as the temperature increased and as the pressure decreased. The nitriding treatment on the AISI 316 steel resulted on the formation of expanded austenite layers at 450°C and chromium nitrides (CrN and Cr2N) phases at 500°C. The nitriding treatment on AISI 409 yielded the formation of similar layers for both treatment temperatures; these layers constituted mainly chromium (Cr2N) and iron (Fe2N, Fe3N, and Fe4N) nitrides. After the nitriding treatment, the AISI 316 steel sample presented higher wear resistance for lower temperature and pressure values. The increase on layer fragility, for higher temperature and pressure values, can be responsible for this inverse tendency. The wear resistance of the nitrided AISI 409 sample followed a logic tendency: the harder the layer, the better the performance, i.e., the performance was improved with the increase in both the temperature and pressure.