The 5160 spring steel is mainly used to endure fatigue and since its Mf is below room temperature, retained austenite is usually present after conventional quenching, which is detrimental from a fatigue point of view. To reduce the amount of retained austenite, a partial decarburization was promoted (to increase the Ms and Mf, respectively) by austenitizing the steel at different temperatures and times in air, prior to performing an interrupted quenching in an accelerated media (brine) instead of the conventional oil quenching. The same quenching conditions with partial decarburization and without decarburization are compared. In addition, conventional oil quenching was performed as reference. Results showed that with a controlled partial decarburization, it is possible to increase the fatigue limit compared to the conditions without decarburization (both interrupted quenching and oil quenching). Fatigue experiments were carried out in a rotating bending fatigue type tester. Cooling curves, decarburization profiles, fraction of martensite plots, and fatigue data are discussed.
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