Mechanism and Kinetics of Plasma Nitriding of the Nb-Alloyed PM Tool Steel
The aim of this work was to describe the mechanism and kinetics of plasma nitriding of a Nb-containing PM (powder metallurgy) tool steel. Material containing 2.5 wt.% C, 3.3% Si, 6.2% Cr, 2.2% Mo, 2.6% V, 2.6% Nb and 1.0% W was prepared by nitrogen melt atomization and hot isostatic pressing. Heat-treated steel (quenching from 1100 °C, triple tempering at 550 °C for 1h) was plasma nitrided at temperatures ranging from 470 °C to 530 °C / 30 - 180 min. Light microscopy, TEM, SEM and WDS were used to study the nitrided steel. It has been shown, that nitriding at 470°C leads to the formation of thin layers composed only of a diffusion zone containing nitrogen-rich martensite and fine nitride precipitates, no layer of nitrides is formed on the surface. Nitriding is probably controlled by the nitrogen diffusion in martensite to the material or by the processes in the nitriding atmosphere at this temperature. Nitriding at the temperature of 500°C and more leads to the formation of a continuous layer of nitrides and carbonitrides on the surface that limits further nitrogen diffusion. Niobium, as a prospective element in tool steels, was not found to play a role in the formation of the nitrided layer directly. Niobium replaces vanadium in very thermodynamically stable primary MC carbides. This results in higher vanadium content in others less stable carbides and in the matrix. Due to this effect, higher portion of vanadium can precipitate as VC carbides and VN nitrides during heat treatment and nitriding, respectively.
J. Čermák and I. Stloukal
P. Novák et al., "Mechanism and Kinetics of Plasma Nitriding of the Nb-Alloyed PM Tool Steel", Defect and Diffusion Forum, Vol. 263, pp. 87-92, 2007