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Hardenability is the capacity of a material to be hardened by heat treatment
(quenching). Hardenability of steels can be measured using the Jominy end test. The
Jominy end test testifies the incidence of the composition of the alloy and heat
treatment procedures for manufacturing purposes.

This is a report on the Jominy end quench test. The jominy test is carried out; the
regions of cooling are recorded and shown in a graph, as tested by the Rockwell C
hardness test machine. Performing the Jominy test it is possible to know the
hardenability of steel.


Fig 1 (Steel test piece) 

The test piece is a high carbon steel cylinder of 100mm in length and 25.4mm in
diameter (Fig 1), with atypical analysis shown in Table 1. The steel is normalized to
eliminate differences in microstructure due to previous forging, and then it is
austenitised. It is heated to 850°C in a furnace for around 30 min utes until
austenitised. The steel is then transferred from the furnace and carefully place into
the quenching apparatus (Fig 2). Where it is held vertically and sprayed with a
controlled flow of water (Fig 3A) at room temperature onto one end of the sample.
The end of the steel that is in direct contact with the water will cool rapidly the rest of
the bar will cool gradually, the furthest away from the water will cool the slowest ,
simulating the effect of quenching a larger steel component in water. Because the
cooling rate decreases further from the quenched end, you can measure the effects
of a wide range of cooling rates from vary rapid at the quenched end to air cooled at
the far end.




Table 1: Typical chemical composition 

Once the steel has completely cooled, it is ground flat along its length to a depth of
.38mm to remove decarburized material. Along this flat section of the steel,
measured intervals are marked out (Fig 3B). The steel is then taken to the hardness
test machine from which the recordings are made. The Rockwell hardness tester is
used for measuring hardness. It consists of a platform where the steel is placed,
which can be adjusted in height so that the indenter can make contact with the
surface of the cylinder without causing false read ings. A lever is used for starting the
machine, which exerts a force into the steel until the measurement is shown.

Fig 2 (Quench apparatus) Fig 3A, water jet Fig3B, Indentations along flat


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The Rockwell hardness test involves indenting the test specimen with a diamond
cone or hardened steel ball indenter. An initial indent is made using an initial
preliminary test force, F0, of either 98.07 N or 29.42 N with this being applied for no
longer than 3 seconds. The force is then increased to a secondary level, F1, for a
duration of 1 ± 8 seconds, with the total fo rce, F, being the sum of these. Once the
required time period for the application of F1 has been attained this load is removed,
although the preliminary load is maintained. Removal of the secondary load allows a
partial recovery to occur and the depth of t he penetration is reduced compared to
that for the total load F, but is greater than that for the preliminary load F0. The
permanent increase in the depth of penetration from application and removal of the
secondary load is used to calculate the Rockwell h ardness number, HR. The
Rockwell hardness scales range from A to V for different types of material with each
range having a specified type and/or size of indenter and preliminary and secondary
force. The advantages of the Rockwell test are the direct reado ut of the result from a
scale and rapid testing time, although disadvantages include the many non Xrelated
scales (see BS ENISO 6508 parts 1 X3 for further information). [8]



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After plotting our results into the graph, it can clearly be seen that there is a pattern.
The indentation closest to the quench end has the highest Rockwell number or is the
hardest area. As the indentations get further from the quench ed end the Rockwell
number starts to decrease. Therefore the test piece is hardest at the quenched e nd
and gradually starts to become softer towards the opposite end of the piece. Once
the test piece is place in the quench apparatus, the bottom end is in direct contact
with the water, therefore this end is cooled rapidly , almost in an instant. The rest of
the piece is gradually cooled, the furthest away from the quench end taking the
longest to cool and hence the softest. This can be related to the results in the graph.

Œ ÷ '
As the test piece is transferred from the furnace to the quench apparatus it is in the
austenite phase (Fig 4). The quench end is then rapidly cooled by the water jet,
which, if rapid enough will form martensite (Fig 5).

Martensite is formed when austenitised steels are rapidly cooled to a relatively low
temperature. The martinsite transformation occurs if the cooling rate is rapid e nough
to avoid carbon diffusion . It is almost instantaneous and there is no time for the
carbon to diffuse out of the martensite grains .

From the results on the graph, the first two indentations at 1.5mm and 3mm which
are closest to the quench end are in the martensite phase. The opposite end, which
is furthest away from the water jet, is ferrite/pearlite (Fig 6). The space in between is
a mixture of both. The proportions of the phases at any position depend on the
cooling rate, with more martensite formed where the cooling rate is fastest. Ferrite
and pearlite are formed where the cool ing rate is slower.

Ferrite/pearlite phase and martensite phase are competitive, if cooled fast enough
martensite is formed as the cooling gets slower ferrite/pearlite is formed. Unlike
martensite, ferrite/pearlite involves carbon diffusion, which takes time.

Fig 4 (austenite)


Fig 5 (martensite) Fig 6 (Ferrite/pearlite)

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 ± the fcc phase of Fe that can have up to 2% C in interstitial solid
 ± the eutectoid microstructure of ferrite and cementite. There is
coarse pearlite and fine pearlite. (These are relative terms as all eutectoid
microstructures are typically fine grained.) 

 ± another eutectoid microstructure of ferrite and cementite. It has a
different grain morphology than Pearlite. There is upper bainite and lower
bainite that differs in the grain morphology as well. As you would expect,
lower bainite is a finer grained material.
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 ± a metastable (non-equilibrium) single phase, supersaturated,
interstitial, solid solution of C in Fe. It can be bct or bcc depending on the
amount of C. It is the result of a diffusion less (time independent,
instantaneous) transformation. (These types of transformations are
sometimes called martensitic transformations, even when there is no
martensite involved.) Martensite is extremely hard and extremely brittle.
Think of a glass hammer. It is not really a practical material. It needs to be
made more ductile in order to be able to use it. The microstructure of
martensite will depend on the amount of C. Lathe martensite results with
<0.6% C. It is long, thin grains called laths. Plate or lenticulor martensite is
needle like or plate like grains. In general martensite is acicular or needle like
grains which is why it is so brittle.



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Today¶s demands of high quality products have made heat treatment an important
process for most engineering applications. Heat treatment involves the property
improvement of metals by changing their microstructure. Heat treatment
can be done to accomplish a number of outcomes.

‡ iffuse carbon and alloying elements

‡ Soften the material

‡ Improve machine-ability

‡ Harden the material

‡ Increase toughness

‡ Increase wear resistance

‡ Stress relieve

Steel heat treatments invol ve one or more series of operations in which the metal is
heated to specific temperature, and then cooled under specified conditions to
develop a required structures a nd properties.

u ÷ 
Annealing is a process in which a material is heated to a suitable temperature, then
held for a period of time and then cooled at a certain rate. This process is used to
soften the material and its can also be used to produce desired changes in the

The purposes of such changes include improvement of machinability, facilitation of

cold work, improvement of mechanical or electrical properties, and/or increase in
Stability of dimensions 


There are different stages of the annealing process:

u ÷ ÷  / 

| Residual stress and internal strain energy is relieved by dislocations moving

into lower energy configurations 
| Strength decreases slightly and ductility increases slightly 

u ÷ 0  

| Formation of new strain-free, low energy, low dislocation density grains. 

| Temperature at which re-crystallization just reaches completion in one hour.
Usually this is about 1/3 ± ½ the melting temperature.
| The temperature of re-crystallization depends on time, purity and initial grain

u ÷  2

| Once the re-crystallization has occurred and the structure is made of new
crystal grains, the grains will continue to grow. The grain boundaries will
move and the larger grains will grow at the expense of the smaller ones. 



Î 3 
Quenching is the rapid cooling of the work piece with an air, gas, liquid, or solid

Hardness related to the Carbon content of the steel. Hardening of steel requires a
change in structure from the body-centred cubic structure to the face-centred cubic
structure found in the Austenitic region. The steel is heated to Austenitic region.
When rapidly quenched, the Martensite is formed. This is a very strong and brittle
structure. When slowly quenched Austenite and Pearlite are formed which is a partl y
hard and partly soft structure. When the cooling rate is extremely slow then it would
be mostly Pearlite which is very soft.

Hardenability, which is a measure of the depth of full hardness achieved, is related to

the type and amount of alloying elements . ifferent alloys, which have the same
amount of Carbon content, will achieve the same amount of maximum hardness;
however, the depth of full hardness will vary with the different alloys. The reason to
alloy steels is not to increase their strength, but i ncrease their hardenability ² the
ease with which full hardness can be achieved throughout the material. Usually
when steel is quenched, most of the cooling happens at the surface, as does the
hardening. This propagates into the depth of the material. Allo ying helps in the
hardening and by determining the right alloy one can achieve the desired properties
for the particular application. Such alloying also helps in reducing the n eed for a
rapid quench cooling, which will eliminate distortions and potential c racking. In
addition, sections can be hardened to the core. Quenching is the act of rapidly
cooling the austenite form to harden the steel.

Î ÷3 '
Î ÷ ÷ 43 

Quenching can be done by cooling the steel in water. The water adjacent to the hot
steel vaporizes, and there is no direct contact of the water with the steel. This slows
down cooling until the bubbles break and allow water contact with the steel. As the
water contacts and boils, a great amount of heat is removed from the steel. With
good agitation, bubbles can be prevented from sticking to the steel, and prevent soft
spots. Water is a good rapid quenching medium, provided good agitation is done.
However, water is corrosive with steel, and the rapid cooling can sometimes cause
distortion or cracking.

Î ÷ )43 

Salt water will cool the steel more rapidly than plain water because the bubbles are
broken easily and allow for rapid cooling of the part. But, salt water is even more
corrosive than plain water, and there fore must be rinsed off immediately.

Î ÷  5

Where a slower cooling rate is needed, oil is used. Since oil has a very high boiling
point, the transition from start of Martensite formation to the finish is slow and this
reduces the likelihood of cracking.

Î ÷ Œ , 3 

Polymer quenches will produce a cooling rate in between water and oil. The cooling
rate can be altered by varying the components in the mixture, as these are
composed of water and some glycol polymers. Polymer quenches are capable of
producing repeatable results with less corrosion than water. But, these repeatable
results are possible only with constant monitoring of the chemistry.

Î ÷ u   .

Cryogenics or deep freezing is done to make sure there is no retaine d Austenite

during quenching. The amount of Martensite formed at quenching is a function of the
lowest temperature encountered. At any given temperature of quenching there is a
certain amount of Martensite and the balance is untransformed Austenite.


In heat-treatment, reheating hardened steel or hardened cast iron to a given
temperature below the eutectoid temperature will decrease hardness and increase
toughness. The process also is sometimes applied to normalized steel. In nonferrous
alloys and in some ferrous alloys (steels that cannot be hardened by heat -treatment),
the hardness and strength produced by mechanical or thermal treatment, or both,
and characterized


The Jominy test describes the ability of the steel to be hardened in depth by
quenching. The hardenability depends on the alloy composition of the steel, and can
also be affected by processing, such as the austenite temperature. Knowledge of the
hardenability of steels is necessary in order to select the appropr iate combination of
alloy and heat treatment for components of different size, to minimise thermal
stresses and distortion.

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