Nano-indentation has become an important tool in the study of mechanical properties of solids at small length scales, ever since its formulation as a technique in the early 1980s. The small size of an indentation, typically one micrometer or less in surface extent, makes it a potentially attractive tool also for the quantitative study of the characteristics of surface layers in monolithic solids. Here, we report results from a study in which nano-indentation has been combined with taper-sectioning to analyze the mechanical properties of thin surface layers affected by manufacturing processes. The so-called white etching layer (WL) produced in steel surfaces by machining and abrasion is characterized. The WL is found to have a hardness in the range of 11.5–16.2 GPa, which is significantly greater than that of untempered martensite produced by heat treatment processes. These hardness values are close to those measured on steel piano wires. The so-called “burn-layer” produced on ground surfaces of steels is found to have a hardness distribution very similar to that of a white layer, suggesting that the two layers are of the same type. Localized hardening and softening of surface layers, over spatial extents of a few micro-meters, caused by material removal processes are accurately resolved by the combined use of nano-indentation and taper-sectioning. The taper-sectioning/nano-indentation approach is also shown to be a good procedure for characterizing the hardness of PVD-TiN films deposited onto hard metal substrates.
A New Approach for Studying Mechanical Properties of Thin Surface Layers Affected by Manufacturing Processes
Contributed by the Manufacturing Engineering Division for publication in the JOURNAL OF MANUFACTURING SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING. Manuscript received December 2000; Revised March 2002. Associate Editor: A. Shih.
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Moylan , S. P., Kompella , S., Chandrasekar , S., and Farris, T. N. (April 15, 2003). "A New Approach for Studying Mechanical Properties of Thin Surface Layers Affected by Manufacturing Processes ." ASME. J. Manuf. Sci. Eng. May 2003; 125(2): 310–315. https://doi.org/10.1115/1.1559161
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