Morphology of the DIN 100Cr6 Case Hardened Steel after Plasma Nitrocarburizing Process

Nitrocarburizing is considered one of the most important thermochemical treatments for surface modification of metallic materials and involves the simultaneous diffusion of nitrogen and carbon onto the surface. Understanding and controlling the formation of the nitrocarburized layer have considerable industrial interest due to the improvements regarding wear, fatigue, and corrosion resistances. DIN 100Cr6 steel samples were treated by plasma nitrocarburizing for two hours, with two treatment temperatures (550 and 600°C) and four methane concentrations in the gas mixture composition (0, 1.0, 1.5, and 2.0%). SEM and XRD analyses, and wear resistance tests were used to characterize the samples. Results showed that the treatment temperature and atmosphere composition had considerable influence on the compound layer morphology. For nitrided samples the compound layer consists of γ'-Fe4N phase, and the presence of carbon in the gas mixture helps stabilize the ɛ-Fe2-3N phase. Higher CH4 concentration in the treatment atmosphere improve the sample superficial wear resistance.