Work hardening increases the hardness of a steel through the processes of hammering, rolling, and drawing among other methods. As the saying goes, “Hit it once and it gets hard. Hit it again and it gets even harder.” If you keep hitting the wear steel, it will get harder and harder until fracture occurs.

What Causes Work Hardening in Wear Steel?

Work hardening is a result of plastic deformation, which refers to the altering of the crystal structure within steel. In scientific terms, work hardening can be understood as the stretching and breaking of atom bonds, and then rearranging them. Nearly all steels can be work hardened to a minor degree.

Most wear steels are produced to a high hardness primarily through the process of heat treatment (i.e.” as delivered” hardness level of 400, 500, or 600 Brinell or BHN). Wear steels are very brittle and almost impossible to form and process before they crack.

Why Should Wear Steel Work Harden?

One of the reasons the ideal wear steel should work harden is so that it can be produced with an “as delivered” relatively low hardness, thereby allowing easier machining, bending, and forming. But in service, the steel will get harder and harder.

Advantages of Work Hardening

Enhanced Mechanical Properties

Work hardening is a beneficial process used by manufacturers to enhance the mechanical properties of metals. Work-hardened wear steels exhibit increased strength, hardness, and resistance to wear and fatigue compared to their annealed counterparts.

Improved Ductility

In addition to strength improvements, work hardening can also enhance the ductility of wear steel, making it more malleable and easier to shape.

Resistance to Corrosion and High Temperatures

Work-hardened wear steels demonstrate greater resistance to corrosion and can withstand higher temperatures than annealed metals, making them suitable for high-stress environments like aerospace and automotive applications.

Drawbacks of Work Hardening

Increased Brittleness

Despite its advantages, work-hardened metals can be more brittle than annealed metals, increasing the risk of cracking or fracturing under stress.

Complexity in Machining and Forming

Work-hardened metals can be more challenging to machine or form compared to annealed metals, leading to increased manufacturing costs and complexities.

Stress Corrosion Cracking

Work hardening can also make metals more susceptible to stress corrosion cracking, potentially reducing the overall lifespan of the material.

Enhancing Material Properties Through Work Hardening

Let’s review the benefits of work hardening on the properties of wear steel:

Strength Boost: Deformation creates dislocations in the material’s crystal structure, making it harder and stronger. Some wear steels can double or triple in strength after work hardening.

Improved Durability: Harder materials resist wear and tear better, crucial for applications facing repeated stress like machinery or structural components.

Reduced Ductility: Work hardening can decrease wear steel’s ability to stretch or bend without breaking due to increased dislocations.

Increased Brittleness: While it enhances strength, work hardening can make wear steel more brittle, increasing the risk of cracking under stress.

Achieving Balance: Careful control of work hardening parameters is essential to balance strength, durability, ductility, and brittleness.

Industry Applications of Work Hardening

Here are the key applications of work-hardened wear steel and their benefits:

Strengthening Metals

Work hardening, also known as cold working, is crucial in producing high-strength wear steels for construction, automotive, and aerospace sectors. It increases strength and hardness through mechanical stress via processes like rolling and forging.

Enhancing Fatigue Resistance

Work hardening aids in reducing fatigue failure, especially in aerospace, by inducing compressive residual stresses through methods like shot peening.

Improving Wear Resistance

Techniques like carburizing followed by work hardening create a hard surface layer, enhancing wear resistance, crucial in industries like automotive and manufacturing.

Aerospace Component Manufacturing

Work hardening is pivotal in crafting aerospace components for their high strength and toughness requirements. Titanium alloys undergo work hardening for improved fatigue resistance and to create complex shapes like turbine blades.

Electrical Contact Production

Work hardening ensures high electrical conductivity and wear resistance in electrical contacts, achieved through processes like cold heading.

Overall, work hardening offers diverse benefits such as increased strength, toughness, fatigue and wear resistance, and electrical conductivity, with process selection tailored to specific applications and material properties while considering cost, complexity, and performance trade-offs.

Does Titus Manganese Wear Steel Work Harden?

Titus Manganese starts with a relatively low hardness of 250 BHN and can be processed or formed to various parts. When in service and with impact, it will work harden to 550 BHN, almost double its initial hardness. This is why Titus Manganese is a superior wear steel in applications where there is impact such as shot blast cabinets.

How do ENDURA and ENDURA Dual Wear Steels Measure Up?

ENDURA and ENDURA Dual with titanium carbides start with a higher initial hardness of approximately 430 BHN but can still be processed and formed into parts. With impact, these wear steels will both work harden to 550-560 BHN, an increase of almost 30%, making them ideal for many mining and quarry application such grizzly decks, screens, and liners.

Discover the Strength of Titus Steel: Your Trusted Supplier of ENDURA and ENDURA Dual Steels

Specializing in wear and impact steels, we proudly offer top-notch ENDURA and ENDURA Dual wear steels, renowned for their unmatched durability and resilience in challenging industrial settings. Our commitment to excellence makes us the go-to partner for industries seeking superior wear resistance and exceptional impact performance.

To find out more about our wear steel products and to receive a personalized quote, contact us today.