Nitrocarburizing is a process that is designed to develop a hard surface and to increase the ability of the surface of different metals and alloys to resist wear. There are two different forms of the process, one which is ferritic (FNC) and one that is austenitic (ANC).
Understanding the process as well as the differences between the two options allows OEMs to choose the best process for the given material as well as the end requirements. Both of the nitrocarburizing options do provide a hard, durable surface layer, but there are also other factors to consider.
ANC Benefits and Process
ANC uses a high temperature for the process and creates both a hard surface layer as well as a diffusion zone of transformed martensite below the surface. The combination of the top layer and the diffusion layer develops a more durable surface for enhanced hardness, even under extreme wear conditions.
Even though the heat used in the process is higher than the low heats used for FNC, there is no phase transformation of the workpiece deeper than the diffusion zone. This means extremely limited distortion and precision surfaces to increase fatigue strength and corrosion in addition to wear resistance.
FNC Benefits and Process
The ferritic nitrocarburizing process is completed at a temperature that is below 1100 degrees Fahrenheit, and it is ideal when there is a need to avoid any change in the core properties of alloy steel, carbon steel or cast iron.
The process creates a compound surface layer that is .0002 to .0010 inches in depth. With precision processing, this surface can be very precise, and it provides excellent wear resistance while also increasing corrosion resistance on many types of base metals.
The FNC process is used in automotive and equipment parts, particularly for the surface hardening of crank and camshafts, valves, gears, clutches and axles among other parts and components. It is a cost-effective option as an alternative to chrome plating, and also offers environmental benefits to plating.
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