Solar Atmospheres has established a method of controlling the amount and depth of white layer resulting from Gas Nitriding. This procedure was accomplished following extensive testing using AISI 4140 Steel in a Solar Atmospheres Gas Nitriding Vacuum furnace. Various applications requiring Nitriding often require specific white layer limits which can now be provided by this process.
Following an initial rapid pump down to produce an Oxygen free, vacuum environment, the Nitriding cycle consisted of a pre-heat at a partial pressure of Nitrogen followed by Nitriding at a slightly positive pressure using an Ammonia/Nitrogen mixture. Many cycles were performed varying the time and gas flow parameters at temperature and the resulting white layer composition and thickness determined. The key to controlling the white layer formation was the introduction of a Boost-Diffusion technique during the Nitriding phase. Surface hardness and depth of nitride zone were then recorded from microhardness measurements and metallography. All this data was compiled to establish Nitriding procedures that provide the final desired structure in the minimum cycle time. This includes processes that produce the minimum depth or complete absence of white layer as dictated by the final application of the parts.