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Steel -- Quenching, Residual stresses -- Measurement, X-ray diffraction imaging, Scanning electron microscopy, Steel -- Microstructure


Automotive components manufacturers use the 5160 steel in leaf and coil springs. The industrial heat treatment process consists in austenitizing followed by the oil quenching and tempering process. Typically, compressive residual stresses are induced by shot peening on the surface of automotive springs to bestow compressive residual stresses that improve the fatigue resistance and increase the service life of the parts after heat treatment. In this work, a high-speed quenching was used to achieve compressive residual stresses on the surface of AISI/SAE 5160 steel samples by producing high thermal gradients and interrupting the cooling in order to generate a case-core microstructure. A special laboratory equipment was designed and built, which uses water as the quenching media in a high-speed water chamber. The severity of the cooling was characterized with embedded thermocouples to obtain the cooling curves at different depths from the surface. Samples were cooled for various times to produce different hardened case depths. The microstructure of specimens was observed with a scanning electron microscope (SEM). X-ray diffraction (XRD) was used to estimate the magnitude of residual stresses on the surface of the specimens. Compressive residual stresses at the surface and sub-surface of about --700 MPa were obtained.


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