Laser transformation hardening (LTH) based on rapid heating and cooling cycles produce hard and wear-resistant layers of the metallic component. A high intensity moving laser beam heats up the thin layer of the external surface of the component without damaging the bulk of material. The metallurgical transformations taking place in the material during the thermo-kinetic cycles could effectively improve the mechanical properties of its surface. Nowadays, a high power direct diode laser (HPDDL) has been accepted by industry as a valuable tool to carry out this process. A three-dimensional (3-D) transient thermo-kinetic model has been developed to predict the temperature profile of the hardened layers of the material surface. The temperature-dependence of the thermal properties of the material is taken into account in the model. The laser beam is considered as a moving line heat source with a uniform distribution of laser power. The numerical solution is obtained by using a transient 3-D heat conduction equation with convection boundary conditions at the surfaces of the workpiece. A number of experiments have been carried out to harden components of AISI S7 tool steel by a continuous wave (CW) HPDDL at different power levels (1200 W – 2000 W) and different scanning speeds (5 mm/s – 20 mm/s). The main processing parameters such as laser power and scanning speed are optimized based on the numerical analysis of the heat conduction involved in this process. The numerical simulation results are compared with results produced experimentally by a HPDDL laser operating in CW, showing good agreement.

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