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Advantages and Disadvantages of Surface Hardening of Steel

Surface Hardening of Steel

Surface hardening of steel is a process in which the surface of the metal is hardened to increase its wear resistance. This can be a great option for businesses requiring high-quality parts for their machines and needing extra durability. Let’s take a look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of surface hardening so you can make an informed decision.

Advantages of Surface Hardening

One major advantage of surface hardening is that it increases the wear resistance properties of steel without significantly affecting its underlying structure or properties. This means you can enjoy the benefits of having a harder surface, such as improved wear resistance, without sacrificing other important characteristics like Strength, ductility, and hardness. Additionally, this process can be used on any type or grade of steel and is relatively inexpensive compared to other hardness treatments. Lastly, it also requires minimal distortion compared to other heat treatment processes.

Wear Resistance

One of the primary advantages of surface hardening is that it can improve the wear resistance of steel. Steel that has been surface hardened will be more resistant to wear and tear, as well as to abrasion and impact. This can make it ideal for use in applications where the steel will be subject to high-stress levels.

Corrosion Resistance

Another advantage of surface hardening is that it can increase the corrosion resistance of steel. Steel that has been surface hardened will be less likely to rust or corrode when exposed to moisture or other corrosive materials. This makes it an ideal choice for applications where corrosion resistance is a key concern.

Strength and hardness

Surface hardening can also improve the Strength and hardness of steel. This means that steel that has been surface-hardened will be more resistant to deformation and breakage. Additionally, surface-hardened steel will often have a higher yield strength, at which point the material begins to deform permanently.

Aesthetic Properties

In addition to its functional advantages, surface hardening can also enhance the aesthetic properties of steel. The process can create various patterns on the surface of the steel, which can add visual interest to the material. Surface-hardened steel often has a higher shine and polish than non-surface-hardened steel.

Cost-Effective Solution

Finally, surface hardening is often a more cost-effective solution than other methods of hardening steel. This is because surface hardening can be performed using relatively simple equipment and processes. Additionally, surface hardening does not require using expensive materials or chemicals.

Disadvantages of Surface Hardening

Although surface hardening has many advantages, there are a few drawbacks to consider before deciding if this process is right for your business. One disadvantage is that it may not be effective on thicker sections since deep penetration cannot be achieved during this process. Additionally, the depth and quality of the resulting case may vary depending on factors such as alloy composition and section size. Another disadvantage is that it cannot improve fatigue resistance or toughness in materials like stainless or low-alloy steel. These materials tend to crack when exposed to high temperatures during this process. Lastly, its shallow depth may not always provide adequate protection against corrosion or abrasion in specific applications—it depends on the environment you’ll be using these parts.

Risk of Cracking

One of the primary disadvantages of surface hardening steel is that it increases the risk of cracking. This is because the hardening creates a harder outer layer and a softer inner layer. If the steel is subject to impact or other stresses, the outer layer can crack, revealing the softer inner layer.

Difficult to Machine

Another disadvantage of surface-hardening steel is that it is more difficult to machine. This is because the hard outer layer can quickly dull cutting tools. As a result, machining surface-hardened steel can take longer and be more expensive than machining non-hardened steel.

Limited to Smaller Pieces

Surface hardening steel is also generally limited to smaller pieces. This is because larger pieces are more likely to crack during the hardening process. Additionally, larger pieces are more difficult to heat evenly, which can also lead to cracking.

Requires Specialized Equipment

Surface hardening steel also requires specialized equipment. This includes furnaces capable of reaching high temperatures and quenching baths that can rapidly cool the steel. As a result, surface hardening steel is generally only done by large commercial heat-treating facilities.

Can Be Less Durable

While surface hardening can increase the wear resistance of steel, it can also make it less durable overall. This is because the hard outer layer can be susceptible to chipping or breaking if it is subject to repeated impacts or other stresses.


Surface hardening has advantages and disadvantages but can be an excellent choice for those looking for increased wear resistance properties in their parts without sacrificing important characteristics like Strength and flexibility. It’s relatively inexpensive compared to other treatments and easy to apply. It does not require much distortion compared to other methods — although careful consideration must still be made when selecting this option since it may not work as effectively on thicker sections or provide adequate corrosion protection in certain environments. Ultimately, understanding how surface hardening works will help you make an informed decision about whether or not this process is right for your business needs.

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