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Additional processing

Case hardening and QT treatment for the highest strength steels 

Heat treatments are used to influence the steel so that the desired component properties can be set. Steeltec's special steels can be subjected to various heat treatments.

Steeltec is able to configure the composition and structure of the steel in such a way that the final heat-treatment stage results in a customized steel material with exactly the right physical and mechanical properties for a specific application. This is how Steeltec has created a broad portfolio of case-hardening steels and quenched and tempered steels that are designed to meet individual customer requirements.

Tempering and hardening of our rolled steels

The quench and temper process (also referred to as through-hardening) is a treatment process in which the steel is hardened across its entire cross-section; case hardening, in contrast, is a purely surface treatment in which the microstructure of the core material remains unchanged. At Steeltec, case hardening is used to harden the rolled steels that are to be used by chain manufacturers. Careful adjustment of the chemical composition is critical as the steel has to fulfill different requirements. The surface needs to be hard but the metal core needs to tough so that the chain can carry heavy loads without any risk of fracturing.

Steeltec also offers other heat treatment processes, such as softening. These additional heat treatment and surface treatment operations are carried out by European partners who are themselves market leaders in their fields.

Hardening bright steel

Hardening steel transforms the microstructure of the metal in such a way that users benefit from increased mechanical resistance. When using ETG® 88 / 100 for hardening, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Avoid hardening around sharp edges, keyways or cross holes.
  • Hardening thin-walled components across the full thickness of the wall is not recommended.
  • When components with very complex geometries need to be hardened (e.g. spherically shaped areas, deep slots or notches, tight curves), they should undergo stress-relief annealing at 180–200 °C prior to hardening.
  • As ETG® 88 / 100 steels show more pronounced banding than other QT steels, we recommend maintaining the hardening temperature at least 100 °C above Ac3.
  • Like all rolled-and-drawn material, ETG® has a slightly decarburized boundary zone and thus slightly reduced surface hardening in this zone.
  • Hardening of drawn surfaces should be avoided due to the possible presence of surface imperfections. Hardening stresses at these imperfections may cause cracking as a result of the notch effect.
  • When hardening gear wheels, the tooth root should also be hardened to a depth of 0.2 mm.
  • To avoid quench cracking due to stresses introduced during the hardening process, the hardened components should be tempered (~140 °C, 1 h) soon after hardening.
  • Compared with ETG® 100, ETG® 88 is less susceptible to quench cracking due to lower levels of residual stress.

Hardness curve according to DIN EN ISO 2639

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Free cutting steel Soft free cutting steel
Free cutting steel
Case hardening steel
Case hardening steel With lead
Case hardening steel Unalloyed case hardening steel
Cold heading steel
Chain steel
Construction steel
Quenched and tempered steel
Quenched and tempered steel Unalloyed quenched and tempered steel with lead
Cold heading steel SwissBain
ETG 88 High strength special steel
ETG 100 High strength special steel
HSX 90 High strength special steel
HSX 110 High strength special steel
HSX 130 High strength special steel
HSX Z10 High strength special steel
HSX Z12 High strength special steel
ETG 25 Cold heading steel
ESP 65 Case hardening steel
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Will the part or component be machined?

Around 85% of the costs in parts manufacturing are attributable to process costs. It is therefore worthwhile to optimize these costs with the targeted use of materials. Steeltec free-cutting steels are optimized for machining. Steeltec has also developed high-strength special products with outstanding machining properties. Short chip breaking, longer tool life and high uniformity across batches open up new possibilities in the design of manufacturing processes.

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Will the part or component be subjected to particular large stresses?

Materials for highly stressed parts must not only be outstandingly machinable, but also withstand high loads. A typical load - for hydraulic components, for example - is dynamic stress. To withstand it, users need a steel with a good ratio of strength and toughness.

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Will the part or component be processed asymmetrically?  

High dimensional stability and uniform machining behavior are decisive for an economical and plannable manufacturing process. The manufacturing costs per part are decisive, especially in high-volume production. Our low-distortion steels are designed to meet specified geometries and tolerances and minimize financial risk.

More about low-distortion steels

Will the part or component be subject to a cold-forming process?

The required properties - for example in terms of machinability, cold formability or weldability - can be precisely adjusted to customer specifications during the process. Thanks to very good cold forming properties, steels are formed into components, e.g. fasteners, by cold forming. Depending on the application requirements, they exhibit high strength and high durability. To achieve this, the materials must combine high initial strength with good formability. Special steels from Steeltec enable efficient and resource-saving production.

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Will the component be welded?

Welding is particularly important for chains and structural grades, but also for applications such as the manufacture of wire baskets. Steeltec's rolled steels can be welded using various techniques. Welding requires materials that are alloyed. In addition, just as in bending, the steel needs a certain hardness, but it must be possible to machine it. And it must be possible to heat it without creating too much stress.

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