“Reference QuenchProbe”—An Alternative Probe Design for In-Situ Estimation of Cooling Rates, Heat Flux, and Hardenability During Immersion Quenching of Hardenable Steels
Materials Performance and Characterization
This article reviews some of the limitations of the standard cooling curve analysis and the Jominy hardenability test in extending the results to actual quenching in industrial setups and reports the development of a new portable tool—Reference QuenchProbe—for estimating cooling rates, hardness, and microstructure distributions in hardenable steel grades during immersion quenching, which can be used by the heat treater in the plant. The specimen is made of the same grade of steel as the quenched component with section thickness matching that of the component, which is a departure from standard laboratory tests. The test is carried out in the plant under actual conditions dispensing the need to correlate the standard cooling curve data and end quench hardenability tests done in the laboratory to industrial practice. To test the suite of mathematical models associated with the Reference QuenchProbe hardware and software, specimens of different grades of steels were instrumented with a single thermocouple near the surface of the specimen. Using the cooling data at the point of measurement, the cooling rates, microstructure, and hardness at other critical locations were computed. An enthalpy-based non-linear inverse heat conduction model was coupled with austenite decomposition models for handling the latent heat liberated during quenching. Several steels ranging from low carbon to medium alloy steels were both end-quenched by water and immersion quenched in several industrial quenchants. The computed hardness of end quenched and immersion quenched specimens were shown to be in good agreement with the measured values. The Reference QuenchProbe is thus shown to generate data needed for heat treatment process design including quenchant selection, which can be directly used in practice.
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Prasanna Kumar, T. S., Hernandez-Morales, B., and Totten, G. E., "“Reference QuenchProbe”—An Alternative Probe Design for In-Situ Estimation of Cooling Rates, Heat Flux, and Hardenability During Immersion Quenching of Hardenable Steels," Materials Performance and Characterization, Vol. 3, No. 4, 2014, pp. 371-394.