The influence of laser surface transformation hardening on the sliding wear characteristics and mechanisms of ASTM class-40 gray and 80-55-06 ductile cast irons was investigated. A 1.2 kw, continuous wave, CO2 gas laser was employed to scan the beam successively across the surfaces of cast irons to generate hardened and tempered layers with various case depths. A pin-on-disk wear test system was then used to study the wear behavior as functions of case depth, microstructure, hardness, and surface roughness. As expected, a dramatic improvement in resistance to scuffing and sliding wear was obtained. However, the most significant result was the occurrence of negligible oxidational wear for a load range that increased with an increase in case depth. Resistance to mild and severe wear, mild-to-severe wear transition load, and frictional heating were increased with an increase in case depth. Analysis of worn surfaces and wear debris revealed that negligible oxidational wear in laser-hardened irons is due to two mechanisms: oxidation and adhesion of oxide to the substrate. In contrast, the mild oxidational wear of untreated irons occurs through the formation of loose oxide debris. The mechanisms of severe wear were plastic deformation, delamination, and adhesion; the rate process was controlled by adhesion for laser hardened irons and delamination for untreated irons.

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