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EU-funded Plassteel process enables low-temperature plasma nitriding of stainless steels

April 13, 2018
Source: ASM International

Cordis, the information portal for European Union research, reports that engineers working on the EU-funded project Plassteel have developed an advanced process for low-temperature surface hardening of stainless steels that allows improved corrosion resistance and accurate tailoring of material properties. The new heat treatment process is said to be suitable for all ferritic, martensitic, austenitic, and duplex grades, imparting high levels of resistance to wear, fatigue, and corrosion.

The Plassteel process is based on plasma technology and consists of a solution nitriding and nitrocarburization process at temperatures below 930┬░F. The carbon-containing gas can be methane, propane, or natural gas. Its content varies from 2 to 10% in the gas mixture. The treatment step can last from several minutes up to 20 hours, depending on the workpiece material and the requirements regarding the layer depth.

Low temperatures reportedly provide a remedy for dissolving nitrogen or carbon into stainless steel without the formation of chromium nitrides or carbides. Project partners succeeded not only in increasing the surface hardness of the parts by four times, but also in improving adhesive and abrasive wear, and the tribological properties of the metal as well.

Throughout the project, several types of stainless steels were processed and tested. Depending on the percentage of the alloying elements in these steels as well as other properties, results slightly varied.

According to Cordis, a Bulgarian company called Ionitech has developed a furnace designed for the Plassteel process.  Its U.S. partner is IBC Coatings Technologies in Lebanon, Indiana.

Subject Classifications

Materials Processing and Treatment | Heat Treating

Materials Processing and Treatment | Surface Engineering

Metals and Alloys | Stainless Steels

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