The fabrication of thin-walled steel alloys through the gas carburization of reduced metal oxide extrusions
Cerully, Laura B.
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Investigations of the production of thin-walled steel alloys through the reduction and subsequent gas carburization of structures made from metal oxide powders were performed. Batch compositions, as well as the heat treatment parameters necessary for the formation of structures were determined through the use of thermogravimetric analysis, dilatometric measurements, and microstructural investigation. Parameters for the high temperature carburization of thin-walled 4140 structures were determined. The research has shown that the amount of carbon in the walls of the structures can be controlled and uniform carbon contents across the cross-sections can be achieved in less than 30 minutes. Heat treatments for carburized samples were performed and subsequent microhardness testing resulted in values similar to conventionally produced 4140 steel. Studies on the decarburization behavior of similar alloys under various conditions were also performed in order to aid in the prediction of the microstructural behavior of samples during carburization and subsequent heat treatment. Low temperature gas carburization of structures with 316 steel composition has also been performed. Hardness variations present through the cross-section of the part after carburization suggest some transfer of carbon, though contents are not as high as anticipated. Suggestions for future work in this area are presented. The results of these investigations yield a novel method for the production of steel parts from metal oxide powders. The speed and low cost of the process, coupled with the proven ability of the process to yield parts with similar microstructural and mechanical characteristics as conventionally made alloys, allows for the techniques presented in this study to be used for the development of alloys which could not be previously done economically.