Workpiece hardening is a central part of any heat treatment facilities’ work output, so it’s only logical that several alternative techniques should develop in response to this need for mechanical toughness. Let’s compare two of these popular hardening techniques. Essentially, we’ll be noting the differences that exist between induction hardening and case hardening technology.
In terms of processing, case hardening involves a thermochemical process that combines heat and chemistry. This process requires a carburizing source and a closed furnace to create a controlled environment. On the other hand, induction hardening utilizes pure electromagnetic energy to induce an alternating current within the metal part. This contact-free energy generates heat on the surface of the component without the need for any chemical interaction.
When it comes to initial production, case hardening has an advantage in processing more parts simultaneously. The batch hardening approach allows for parallel processing, enabling multiple workpieces to pass through the heat treatment facility at once. In contrast, induction hardening typically requires a piece-by-piece approach due to the eddy currents generated within the induction process.
The gas diffusion batch processing method requires a number of sealed parts, including a closed furnace and a carburizing source. Gas parameters and thermal conditions need to be exactingly monitored if repeatable results are to be maintained. Conversely, the adjustment of the electromagnetic frequency ensures precise control of hardening depth, so repeatable results are much easier to achieve.
Again, it’s simply a matter of applying the electrical energy in a directed manner that puts this desirable work feature in the induction hardening win column. Localized alloy hardening is accomplished by optimizing a series of scalable magnetic fields. Unfortunately, a case hardened workpiece can only reproduce this methodology by using special pastes to influence the diffusion process. Not surprisingly, this less than scientific approach cannot be counted upon to create reproducible results.
When considering the advantages of each method, induction hardening excels in providing finite control over complex geometries. The use of electromagnetic fields and frequency-controlled circuits allows for precise and localized hardening, making it suitable for components like crankshafts and gear teeth. On the other hand, case hardening is more suitable for larger components with less geometric detail. The inner core of case-hardened parts remains relatively soft and flexible, making them more workable compared to the fully hardened components produced through induction hardening.
In summary, while both induction hardening and case hardening are effective techniques for workpiece hardening, they differ significantly in their approach and application. Induction hardening offers precise control and localized hardening, making it suitable for complex geometries. Case hardening, on the other hand, is better suited for larger components and allows for batch processing. The choice between the two methods depends on the specific requirements of the workpiece and the desired outcomes of the heat treatment process.