The load carrying capacity of highly loaded gears can be increased by thermochemical surface treatments such as nitriding or case hardening. In contrast to case hardening, the nitriding treatment is carried out at lower process temperatures and therefore creates lower distortion. As a result, grinding after nitriding is usually not necessary. Nitrided gears are ordinarily characterized by a thin, high-hardness, a few micrometers thick compound layer of iron and alloy element nitrides directly on the surface and a subsequent diffusion layer reaching more deeply into the material. Nitriding, therefore, provides an alternative to case hardening for distortion-sensitive components and offers potential for cost savings in the production of highly loaded gears.
This publication will focus on the influence of nitriding on the load carrying capacity of highly loaded gears. In addition, this paper summarizes the current state of knowledge of nitrided gears and gives an insight into current research in the field of nitrided gears. In particular, the influence of the compound layer on the tooth root bending strength and the flank load carrying capacity achieved within the research project FVA 386 II is discussed.