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Vibratory finishing

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There are a number of valid reasons for wanting to improve the surface finish of race engine components. Aesthetics, friction reduction and durability can all be enhanced by reducing surface roughness, although the aesthetic aspect will always be subject to the opinion of the beholder. Controlled surface roughness though is very important on some components – unless you are very sure about what you are doing, mirror-finishing a piston skirt or cylinder liner for example can lead to...

Materials for carburising and nitrocarburising

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Carburising and nitrocarburising are types of surface hardening processes that rely on diffusion to change the composition of the surface of metallic parts. The names suggest the elements involved in the diffusion process – in the carburising process, the percentage of carbon in the surface of the component is increased, and in nitrocarburising, both carbon and nitrogen are added to the surface. Both treatments are a very good way not only of hardening the surface of a component but...

Combining nitriding with other processes

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The benefits of the nitriding surface treatment process have been discussed in previous surface treatment articles in RET-Monitor. While the process gives a significant increase in hardness, it is also used to provide a useful degree of residual compressive stress. Carburising can provide the same benefits, but the temperatures involved mean significant distortion is more likely to occur through the carburising process than in nitriding. Such advantages make nitriding a popular choice for...


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Those of you who have read previous articles of mine on surface treatments may have noted a point that I have continually stressed – that residual compressive stresses can have a very beneficial effect on a component’s endurance. One of the most popular processes for doing this is controlled shot-peening. Many engineers are aware of the benefits of controlled shot-peening, but there has been a lack of in-depth understanding of where the benefits come from, and how the process can...


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There are a wide range of applications of surface treatments for race engines and transmissions, and an even wider range of surface treatments and coatings competing for our business. One surface treatment process that continues to find use in both engines and transmissions, having been popular for several decades, is phosphating. Some of the basic applications of this family of surface treatment processes were covered in a previous article on phosphating. There is however some debate as...