The surfaces of AISI 316L austenitic stainless steel components with complex shapes and geometries can be subjected to extreme loads with intensive wear stress resulting a short lifetime. Low temperature active screen plasma nitrocarburizing (ASPNC) can be applied to form a thin duplex layer known as expanded austenite, improving the hardness and wear resistance with acceptable corrosion resistance. However, ASPNC of shaped components and components with different aspect ratios may yield non-uniform expanded austenite layer and/or reproducibility problems limiting their applications for specific cases. In this study, first, ASPNC of AISI 316L treated at different temperatures was investigated using active screen made of carbon-fibre reinforced carbon (CFC) to determine a reliable treatment temperature without CrN precipitation. In addition, several non-uniformity effects related to geometry and shape of structured samples were investigated during ASPNC treatment at different biased conditions. It was shown that in case of structured samples, a weak bias power at the samples was an essential process parameter to guarantee the formation of thick and homogenous expanded austenite layer while in non-biased conditions, thin and inhomogeneous expanded austenite is formed.
© 2020 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin/Boston