High Hardness Alloy Steels, include a large number and variety of high strength, high hardness, corrosion resistant alloy steels, which have been developed with other special properties. Most of these steels depend on a special heat treatment process in order to develop the desired characteristic in the finished state. Alloy steels have greater strength and durability than other carbon steels, and a given strength is secured with less material weight.
High hardness alloy steels include the following:
Chromium alloy steels. Chromium is used as an alloying element in carbon steels to increase hardenability, corrosion resistance, and shock resistance, and gives high strength with little loss in ductility. Chromium in large amounts shortens the spark stream to one half that of the same steel without chromium, but does not affect the stream’s brightness.
Nickel alloy steels. Nickel increases the toughness, strength, and ductility of steels, and lowers the hardening temperature so that an oil quench, rather than a water quench, is used for hardening. The nickel spark has a short, sharply defined dash of brilliant light just before the fork.
High chromium-nickel alloy (stainless) steels. These high alloy steels cover a wide range of compositions. Their stainless, corrosion, and heat resistant properties vary with the alloy content, and are due to the formation of a very thin oxide film which forms on the surface of the metal. Sparks are straw colored near the grinding wheel, and white near the end of the streak. There is a medium volume of streaks which have a moderate number of forked bursts.
Manganese alloy steels. Manganese is used in steel to produce greater toughness, wear resistance, easier hot rolling, and forging. An increase in manganese content decreases the weldability of steel. Steels containing manganese produce a spark similar to a carbon spark. A moderate increase in manganese increases the volume of the spark stream and the intensity of the bursts. A steel containing more than a normal amount of manganese will produce a spark similar to a high carbon steel with a lower manganese content.
Molybdenum alloy steels. Molybdenum increases hardenability, which is the depth of hardening possible through heat treatment. The impact fatigue property of the steel is improved with up to 0.60 percent molybdenum. Above 0.60 percent molybdenum, the impact fatigue proper is impaired. Wear resistance is improved with molybdenum content above about 0.75 percent. Molybdenum is sometimes combined with chromium, tungsten, or vanadium to obtain desired properties. Steels containing this element produce a characteristic spark with a detached arrowhead similar to that of wrought iron, which can be seen even in fairly strong carbon bursts. Molybdenum alloy steels contain either nickel and/or chromium.
Titanium and columbium (niobium) alloy steels. These elements are used as additional alloying agents in low carbon content, corrosion resistant steels. They support resistance to intergranular corrosion after the metal is subjected to high temperatures for a prolonged period of time.
Tungsten alloy steels. Tungsten, as an alloying element in tool steel, tends to produce a fine, dense grain when used in relatively small quantities. When used in larger quantities, from 17 to 20 percent, and in combination with other alloys, tungsten produces a steel that retains its hardness at high temperatures. This element is usually used in combination with chromium or other alloying agents. In a spark test, tungsten will show a dull red color in the spark stream near the wheel. It also shortens the spark stream and decreases the size of or completely eliminates the carbon burst. A tungsten steel containing about 10 percent tungsten causes short, curved, orange spear points at the end of the carrier lines. Still lower tungsten content causes small, white bursts to appear at the end of the spear. Carrier lines may be from dull red to orange, depending on the other elements present, providing the tungsten content is not too high.
Vanadium alloy steels. Vanadium is used to help control grain size. It tends to increase hardenability and causes marked secondary hardness, yet resists tempering. It is added to steel during manufacture to remove oxygen. Alloy steels containing vanadium produce sparks with detached arrowheads at the end of the carrier line similar to those produced by molybdenum steels.
Silicon alloy steels. Silicon is added to steel to obtain greater hardenability and corrosion resistance. It is often used with manganese to obtain a strong, tough steel.
High speed tool steels. These steels are usually special alloy compositions designed for cutting tools. The carbon content ranges from 0.70 to 0.80 percent. They are difficult to weld, except by the furnace induction method. A spark test will show a few long, forked spades which are red near the wheel, and straw colored near the end of the spark stream.
Many of these high hardness alloy steels can be welded with a heavy coated electrode of the shielded arc type, whose composition is similar to that of the base metal. Low carbon electrodes can also be used with some steels. Stainless steel electrodes are effective where preheating is not feasible or desirable. Heat treated steels should be preheated, if possible, in order to minimize the formation of hard zones, or layers, in the base metal adjacent to the weld. The molten metal should not be overheated, and the welding heat should be controlled by depositing the metal in narrow string beads. In many cases, the procedures for welding medium carbon steels and high carbon steels can be used in the welding of alloy steels.