Laser Hardening is a heat treatment process which uses a high power laser beam to locally harden the surface of steel or cast iron components. Being similar to induction hardening, laser hardening relies on the thermal mass of the component to quench the area to be treated. There is no need for quenching in water or oil to achieve the hardness you require.
Lasers tend to produce harder surfaces to a shallower depth compared to other hardening processes. This makes laser hardening ideal for improving the performance of intricate and high accuracy components.
Important considerations for laser hardening are:
Only materials which undergo transformation hardening can be hardened by this method, carbon steels, high carbon stainless steels, cast irons and aluminium bronzes are typically considered hardenable.
The absorption of the laser light into the substrate must be accurately controlled, the surface roughness and finish can dramatically influence the amount of laser energy which is reflected, therefore extremely reflective surfaces are very difficult to laser harden.
Depth of Hardness
Laser hardening can be used to produce a hardened layer up to 1.5 mm into the base material. In general, deeper hardening results in lower hardnesses.
Impact and Toughness
Laser hardening is capable of producing extremely hard microstructures sometimes over 1000 Hv, with this comes loss in ductility if your application demands high levels of toughness then perhaps laser cladding is a more suitable option.