What Is Abrasion Resistant Steel

Abrasion occurs when materials are rubbed across one another over a period of time. Some abrasion is intentional, such as sanding, grinding, and blasting. However, unintentional abrasion can lead to component failure so it is important to use the proper materials to ensure that surface wear does not lead to unanticipated breakdown of structures or parts. While steel in general has excellent resistance to abrasion, not all steels are equal. There are several types of steels that are made particularly to prevent wear, known as abrasion resistant steels.

How Is It Made?

Abrasion resistant steel is made out of iron ore, carbon, and other alloying elements, similar to other types of steel. The iron ore is melted in a blast furnace which removes undesirable substances that may be in the ore. Carbon and other alloying elements are added during this time. Abrasion resistant steels in particular have extra amounts of carbon and alloying elements such as chromium and manganese. The increased amounts help to make the steel less susceptible to wear. Substances that prevent oxidation are also added to the molten pool.

Following all of this, the molten abrasion resistant steel is shaped, heat treated and cut.

How Does It Work?

The chemical composition of abrasion resistant steel is one of the attributes that make it more immune to wear than other types of steel. There are several alloys that can be used increase the abrasion resistance. Carbon helps block dislocations, which increases the hardness and strength of a steel. The added carbon also allows the steel to form microstructures with increased hardness when heated and quenched. There are other elements that can be added to abrasion resistant steel to increase its hardness value too. Chromium and manganese are also added to abrasion resistant steels to help reduce the negative effects caused by wear.

Heat treatment is another factor that helps the steel resist abrasion. Abrasion resistant steel must have a microstructure that allows it to have a high hardness. This is accomplished, in part, by adding the proper alloying elements. However, this alone is not enough to ensure the proper microstructure is formed. The steel must also undergo a heating and a rapid quenching process to form microstructures such as martensite and bainite which gives the steel the required high hardness values. Care must be taken when welding or heating abrasion resistant steels. If they are heated to a high enough temperature, it may have an annealing effect on the steel, causing it to lose some of its hardness and, therefore, its abrasion resistance.

What Types Are Available?

There are several different abrasion resistant steel grades. Each grade is typically made to a specific Brinell hardness value, as opposed to other steels that are made with tensile strength and toughness in mind. This is because hardness is one of the most important factors when trying to increase abrasion resistance.

One common grade of abrasion resistant steel is AR400. The “400” in its name indicates the Brinell hardness value. AR450 and AR500 are similar to AR400, the difference being a higher Brinell hardness value. While the higher Although it has a lesser Brinell hardness value, AR400 will be more formable. All of these three abrasion resistant steels are used in applications such as mining equipment, cement pouring and forming equipment, excavation equipment, and conveyor systems.

There are also proprietary types of abrasion resistant steel. Tradenames such as Hardox 400 and MAS500 AR are similar to the grades already mentioned. There are also grades such as Hardox 450 CR. The “CR” in the name means that it has been cold rolled. These proprietary grades are used for similar applications previously mentioned.

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