Electric-Spark Alloying of Metal Surfaces with Graphite

V. B. Tarelnyk$^1$, O. P. Gaponova$^2$, and Ye. V. Konoplianchenko$^1$

$^1$Sumy National Agrarian University, 160 Gerasym Kondratiev Str., UA-40021 Sumy, Ukraine
$^2$Sumy State University, 2 Rymsky-Korsakov Str., UA-40007 Sumy, Ukraine

Received 27.09.2021; final version — 19.01.2022 Download PDF logo PDF

The article reviews and analyses the current scientific research in the field of surface treatment of metal surfaces with concentrated energy fluxes (CEF) — the electric-spark (in the literature, known also as electrospark) alloying (ESA), which makes it possible to obtain surface structures with unique physical, mechanical and tribological properties at the nanoscale. The ESA method with a graphite electrode (electrospark carburizing — EC) is based on the process of diffusion (saturation of the surface layer of a part with carbon), and it is not accompanied by an increase in the size of the part. In this article, the influence of the EC parameters on the quality of the carburized layer is investigated. The microstructural analysis shows that the three characteristic zones could be distinguished in the structure: the carburized (‘white’) layer, the finely dispersed transition zone with fine grain, and the base metal zone. The analysis of the results of the durometric studies of the coatings is carried out. To achieve the required parameters of dimensional accuracy and roughness of the working surface of the part after the EC process, it is necessary to use the method of non-abrasive ultrasonic finishing (NAUF). In addition, because of applying the NAUF method, the surface roughness is decreased, the tensile stresses are changed to the compressive ones, and the fatigue strength is increased too. In addition, to reduce the roughness of the treated surface, it is proposed to apply the EC technology in stages, reducing the energy of the spark discharge at each subsequent stage. In order to increase the quality of the carburized layer obtained by the EC process, it is proposed to use a graphite powder, which is applied to the treated surface before alloying. The comparative analysis shows that, after the traditional EC process at Wp = 4.6 J, the surface roughness of steel 20 is Ra = 8.3–9.0 μm, and after the proposed technology, Ra = 3.2–4.8 μm. In this case, the continuity of the alloyed layer increases up to 100%; there increases the depth of the diffusion zone of carbon up to 80 μm as well as the microhardness of the ‘white’ layer and its thickness, which increase up to 9932 MPa and up to 230 μm, respectively. The local micro-x-ray spectral analysis of the obtained coatings shows that, at the EC process carried out in a traditional way, the applying Wp = 0.9, 2.6, 4.6 J provides the formation of the surface layers with high-carbon content depths of 70, 100, 120 μm, respectively, and with the use of a graphite powder, they are of 80, 120, 170 μm. While deepening, the amount of carbon is decreasing from 0.72–0.86% to the carbon content in the base metal — 0.17–0.24%. In the near-surface layer formed with the use of the new technology, the pores are filled with free graphite, which could be used as a solid lubricant to improve the operating characteristics of the friction-pairs parts processed thereby.

Keywords: electrospark (electric-spark) alloying, graphite, carburizing, microstructure, quality, wear resistance.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.15407/ufm.23.01.027

Citation: V. B. Tarelnyk, O. P. Gaponova, and Ye. V. Konoplianchenko, Electric-Spark Alloying of Metal Surfaces with Graphite, Prog. Phys. Met., 23, No. 1: 27–58 (2022)

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