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Prof Ind.

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PROFESSOR INDUCTION
by Dr. Valery I. Rudnev, FASM, Inductoheat Group

Metallurgical insights
for induction heat treaters
PART 7: BARBER-POLE, SNAKE-SKIN, AND FISH-TAIL PHENOMENA
Entries in the Metallurgical insights for
induction heat treaters series alternate
with those in the Systematic analysis of
induction coil failures series.

eat-treat practitioners sometimes observe unusual effects in induction hardening, such as a


striping phenomenon, a barber-pole effect, fish-tail
effect, soft spotting, and a snake-skin effect. The appearance of different types of a striping phenomenon
was discussed in Part 6 of Metallurgical insights for
induction heat treaters[1]. The barber-pole, snake-skin,
and fish-tail effects are discussed here.

Barber-pole effect
The appearance of the striping phenomenon that
occurs during induction heating has been discussed
in Ref.1 and 2. According to this phenomenon, multiple hot and cold stripes can be observed by the
naked eye on the cylinder surface during its heating.
Similar striping effects can also be observed upon
quenching of uniformly heated workpieces using either a single-turn or multi-turn coil with or without part
rotation.
Traditionally, the striping phenomenon that appeared after quenching is often called a quenchstriping effect or a barber-pole effect[2,3]. The barberpole effect that appears in heat treating might not
relate to the specifics of heating, but is primarily
associated with the characteristics of quenching
including:
Part rotation
Specifics of spray quench flow along the workpiece surface after the spray quench impinged
(stroked) its surface
Scan speed
Presence of quench interruptions, or formation
of steam pockets, etc.
Similar to the striping phenomenon type B that
appears during induction heating[1,2], the barber-pole
effect has never been obtained by mathematical modeling. It has only been observed in induction heating
applications. Barber pole stripes are usually of spiral
shapes that could occur on the surface of an asquenched steel or cast iron workpiece, and are typ-

HEAT TREATING PROGRESS MAY/JUNE 2009

ically related to a nonuniform surface oxidation and


scale formation.
In some cases, the barber-pole effect might not be
associated with any appreciable microstructural variations of as-hardened areas of the workpiece, and
would not affect part performance. Therefore, in cases
when the visual appearance of the part surface is not
critical, the barber-pole effect might only be aesthetically unpleasing, but has no detrimental effect
on heat-treated part performance.
However, in other instances[1,3,4], the barber-pole
effect can alter the microstructural homogeneity of
the hardened pattern due to improper quenching
or interrupted (or partial) quench flow. Formation
of upper transformation products (including lower
and upper bainite and pearlite) within the martensitic structure or the appearance of undesirable tempered martensite can be attributed to the barber-pole
effect as well, leading to a combination of hard and
soft (partially hardened) spirals. Experience shows
that improvement in quench flow, its severity and uniformity, or applying a quench follower, as well as
making improvements in the eccentricity of a rotated
part and modifying the impingement of spray strokes
helps to avoid an appearance of the barber-pole
effect.
Induction heat treaters often refer to the barberpole effect as a phenomenon that has no association
with an appearance of any stripes, rings, or spirals. Sometimes, during induction heating of cylinders, a shifted, or squeezed temperature profile suddenly appears at the workpiece surface instead of a
straight heating pattern (Fig. 1). This can take place
when using singleStraight
Shifted
turn or multi-turn
thermal
thermal
pattern
pattern
coils, and it does
not appear to be
related to the helix
Heated
of a multi-turn coil
cylinder
winding. This phenomenon is usually quite unstable,
and when the next Fig. 1 Appearance of a shifted, or
part is heated, the squeezed, temperature profile
(right) instead of a straight heating
barber-pole effect pattern (left) due to the occurrence
could disappear of a barber-pole effect.

Professor Induction
welcomes comments,
questions, and
suggestions for future
columns. Since 1993,
Dr. Rudnev has been on
the staff of Inductoheat
Group, where he currently
serves as group director
science and technology.
He has 28 years of
experience in induction
heating. His expertise
is in materials
science, metallurgy,
electromagnetics, heat
treating, computer
modeling, and process
development. Credits
include 21 patents and
154 publications.
Contact Dr. Rudnev at
Inductoheat Group
32251 North Avis Drive
Madison Heights,
MI 48071;
tel: 248/629-5055;
fax: 248/589-1062;
e-mail: rudnev@
inductoheat.com;
www.inductoheat.com.

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and may never be seen again. If this type


of barber-pole effect is steady, it can be
eliminated by slightly reducing the scan
speed and changing power and/or part
rotation.
Snake-skin effect
and soft-spotting phenomena
The snake-skin phenomenon represents
one of variations of soft spotting. It appears
as alternating soft and hard spots within
the as-quenched structure (looking somewhat similar to the skin of the snake) and
can often be seen by the naked eye on the
workpiece surface (Fig. 2). Soft spots represent regions where upper transformation products were formed. This phenomenon usually takes place when small
coil-to-workpiece gaps are applied in combination with a substantial quenchant pressure and sparsely located spray nozzles.
To improve coil electrical efficiency, inexperienced inductor builders who lack
adequate theoretical knowledge might design MIQ (machined integral quench) inductors having a substantially small coil-

to-workpiece air gap. It is important to remember that induction hardening is a twopart process: heating and quenching.
Lower than expected hardness readings
(soft spots) can occur due to insufficient
quenching, or trapped hot quench pockets.
Properly designed MIQ inductors or use
of quenching blocks with slightly enlarged
coil-to-workpiece gaps and quench holes
eliminate this undesirable phenomenon
without having any noticeable reduction
in coil electrical efficiency. Under identical
heating and quenching conditions, cast
irons are usually more prone to this phenomenon than carbon steels, because irons
have lower thermal conductivity than steels.
Different variations of the soft-spotting phenomenon are observed when heating complex-shaped parts with an interrupted
quench, or if quench flow is deflected or
unintentionally blocked due to geometrical
complexity. Presence of steam pockets can
also result in appearance of the soft-spotting effect.
All components of an induction heat
treating system, including tooling and fix-

Fig. 2 Snake-skin pattern [2] .

tures, should be reviewed when soft spotting occurs. For example, worn bearings
can result in part wobbling during its rotation. That a part is rotating is sometimes
deceiving, because it creates an illusion
that workpiece rotation automatically provides required uniformity of both heating
and quenching stages. However, it should
be recognized that worn bearings can
lead to a situation where regardless of the
part rotation, certain regions can always
be positioned closer to the induction coil,
and during heating, those areas will experience more intense heating. In addition, the same areas of the part will also

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be located closer to quenching device


during quenching, often resulting in more
intense quenching.
In contrast, if the part wobbling is measurable, opposite regions of the workpiece
could experience appreciably less intensive heating and a noticeably milder
quench severity. Both factors potentially
can result in the appearance of surface
soft-spotting and reduced hardness case
depth.
When hardening gears and splines, it
is also important to appreciate a quenchbouncing phenomenon where teeth of
gears and splines can function as paddles
bouncing off the quenching strikes, resulting in nonuniform quenching and soft
spots.
To eliminate soft-spotting requires redesigning the spray-quench system by
taking into consideration the geometrical
features of the particular heat treated part.
Part rotation should be smooth without any
significant wobbling.

copper buses used in the fabrication of a


shaft hardening single-turn inductor (top)
and multi-turn strip heating coil (bottom).
Figure 4a shows the location of the fishtail effect and an instantaneous orientation of the electrical current (arrows shown
in magenta color). A magnetic field is
formed by incoming and outgoing electrical currents oriented in opposite directions at the areas where connection busses
(coil terminals) join an inductor copper.
This results in a magnetic field distortion
that leads to a heat deficit within the corresponding workpiece region, and is often
referred as the fish-tail effect (or flux-fringing
effect). One of the typical solutions to compensate for a fish-tail effect is to rotate the
part during heating, ensuring that all regions of the workpiece absorb same energy during the entire process cycle.
In recent years, some induction heating manufacturers developed and paten-

Fish-tail effect (field-fringing effect)


Conventionally designed single-turn inductors and some multi-turn coils have
areas where there is an inevitable distortion of the magnetic field, which could lead
to an appearance of regions with a heat
deficit and where undesirable microstructures can be produced. One region is related to an area where copper busses that
transmit electrical current from a power
source are connected to an induction coil.
These connectors sometimes have the
shape of a fish tail, and the region is often
called a fish-tail region of the inductor.
Figure 3 shows fish tail-shaped connection

Fig. 3 Fish tail-shaped buses of inductor terminals: (inset) single-turn inductor for hardening shafts;
(bottom) multi-turn inductor for heating strip.

HEAT TREATING PROGRESS MAY/JUNE 2009

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Electric current
Inductor

Fish-ttail
(fringing)
effect

Inductor
terminals

Shaft
(a)
Inductor

Compensated
fish-ttail
effect

Inductor
terminals

Shaft
(b)
Inductor

Compensated
fish-ttail
effect

Shaft
(c)

Inductor
terminals

Fig. 4 Appearance of fish-tail effect and its


corrections.

Fig. 5 Patented non-rotational


crankshaft hardening inductor.
Courtesy of Inductoheat Inc.

18

ted [5,6] a variety of advanced means to effectively control magnetic flux, thus providing compensation for the fish-tail effect and magnetic field fringing at
inductor terminals. To illustrate, Fig. 4b
and 4c show two simplified approaches
that allow compensating for the fish-tail
effect and eliminate the need to rotate the
heated workpiece. In both cases, improved electromagnetic coupling at the
fish-tail region of inductor allows compensating for magnetic field fringing at
that location.
The fish-tail effect was one of the challenges solved during development of an
innovative non-rotational crankshaft hardening technology. Figure 5 shows the inductor used in Inductoheats CrankPro
machine implementing patented non-rotation crankshaft and camshaft surface
hardening technology[2, 5-7].
According to the patented non-rotational
hardening process, an inductor consists
of two coils (Fig. 5): a top (passive) coil
and a bottom (active) coil. The bottom coil,
being active, is connected to a mediumor high-frequency power supply, while the
top coil represents a short circuit (a loop).
The bottom coil is a stationary coil, while
a top coil can be opened
and closed. Each coil has
two semi-circular areas
where the appropriate
crankshaft journals are located.
After loading a crankshaft into the heating position, the top coil moves into a
closed position and power is applied to the bottom coil. The current starts to flow in the bottom coil.
Being electromagnetically coupled to
the top coil, current flowing in the bottom
coil induces eddy currents that start to flow
in the top coil. The induced eddy currents
are oriented in the opposite direction compared with a source current similar to a
transformer effect. Any heated feature of
the crankshaft sees the inductor
as a classical fully encircling, highly electrically efficient coil with
two fishtail regions.
The fish-tail effect was
compensated for and
effectively controlled
using patented coil design innovations[5, 6]. Figure 6 shows

Fig. 6 Transverse cross section of a surfacehardened crankshaft main journal does not
reveal any traces of a fish-tail effect as a result
of using patented design corrections.

a transverse cross section of the surface


hardened crankshaft main journal. Due to
the advanced inductor design, there is
no indication of soft spots or case depth
loss, which typically occurs using a conventional design. Non-rotational induction hardening and tempering technology
provides several benefits such as simple
operation, superior reliability, quality,
maintainability, cost reduction, and
quality of induction hardened crankshafts
and camshafts[2, 5-7].
The patented approaches to control the
fish-tail effect can be successfully used in
other induction heat treating applications,
particular where single-turn inductors are
used. When long, multi-turn inductors are
used (for example, forging coils), the fishtail effect is not pronounced and usually it
is not necessary to compensate for it. HTP

References
1. V. Rudnev, Metallurgical insights for induction heat treaters. Part 6: Striping phenomena,
Heat Treating Progress, ASM Intl., p 21-22,
Nov./Dec., 2008.
2. V.Rudnev, D.Loveless, R.Cook, and M.Black,
Handbook of Induction Heating, Marcel Dekker,
2003.
3. R.Haimbaugh, Practical Induction Heat
Treating, ASM Intl., 2001.
4. G.E.Totten, et.al. Bath maintenance and troubleshooting of polymer quench-related problems for induction heat treating, Proc. ASM Heat
Treat Show, p 951-956, 1997.
5. D.Loveless, V.Rudnev, et. al., Induction heat
treatment of complex-shaped workpieces, US
Patent No. 6,274,857, Aug. 14, 2001.
6. V.Rudnev, D.Loveless, Induction heat treatment of complex-shaped workpieces, US Patent
No. 6,859,125, Feb. 22, 2005.
7. G.Doyon, et. al., Taking the crack out of
crankshaft hardening, Ind. Htg., p 41-44, Dec.,
2008.

HEAT TREATING PROGRESS MAY/JUNE 2009