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Influence of the microstructure on the corrosion resistance of plasma-nitrided austenitic stainless steel 304L and 316L

Einfluss des Mikrogefüges auf die Korrosionsbeständigkeit von plasmanitriertem austenitischem Stahl 1.4307 und 1.4404
: Biehler, J.; Hoche, H.; Oechsner, M.; Kaestner, P.; Bunk, K.; Bräuer, G.


Materialwissenschaft und Werkstofftechnik 45 (2014), Nr.10, S.930-946
ISSN: 0933-5137
Fraunhofer IST ()
austenitic stainless steel; plasma nitriding; corrosion resistance; microstructure; electron backscatter diffraction (EBSD); energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDX)

Austenitic stainless steels are widely used in medical and food industries because of their excellent corrosion resistance. However, they suffer from weak wear resistance due to their low hardness. To improve this, plasma nitriding processes have been successfully applied to austenitic stainless steels, thereby forming a thin and very hard diffusion layer, the so-called S-phase. In the present study, the austenitic stainless steels AISI 304L and AISI 316L with different microstructures and surface modifications were used to examine the influence of the steel microstructure on the plasma nitriding behavior and corrosion properties. In a first step, solution annealed steel plates were cold-rolled with 38% deformation degree. Then, the samples were prepared with three kinds of mechanical surface treatments. The specimens were plasma nitrided for 360 min in a H2N2 atmosphere at 420 °C. X-ray diffraction measurements confirmed the presence of the S-phase at the sample surface, austenite and body centered cubic (bcc)-iron. The specimens were comprehensively characterized by means of optical microscopy, scanning electron microscopy, glow discharge optical emission spectroscopy, X-ray diffraction, surface roughness and nano-indentation measurements to provide the formulation of dependencies between microstructure and nitriding behavior. The corrosion behavior was examined by potentio-dynamic polarization measurements in 0.05 M and 0.5 M sulfuric acid and by salt spray testing.