Tribological properties of plasma nitrided AISI 4140 steel under dry and lubricated sliding conditions

B. Podgornik, J. Vižintin

Tribotest 6 (2000) 357–371.


In this investigation, the microstructural, mechanical and tribological properties of plasma and pulse plasma nitrided AISI 4140 steel have been investigated in comparison to hardened steel. The influence of nitriding case depth, as well as the presence of a compound layer, have been tribologically examined for both dry and lubricated sliding. Testing was carried out on a pin-on-disc machine in which surface-treated pins were mated to hardened ball bearing steel discs. The surface treated samples were characterised using metallographic, SEM, microhardness and profilometric techniques, before and after wear testing. The resulting wear loss and coefficient of friction were monitored as a function of load and of test time. The results showed improved tribological properties of the AISI 4140 steel after plasma and pulse plasma nitriding as compared to the hardened steel, in both dry and lubricated sliding. However, the compound layer should be removed from the surface, either by mechanical means or by decreasing the amount of nitrogen in the nitriding atmosphere, in order to avoid impairment of the tribological properties by fracture of the hard and brittle compound layer, followed by formation of hard abrasive particles.

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