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Induction Heat Treatment

Induction hardening is a form of heat treatment Bluewater utilizes to selectively harden a metal part or component via localized heating where only some surfaces of a metal part are heated while the remainder of the part stays cold during processing. The localized heating is accomplished using a solid state electric power supply that sends an electrical current through an inductor coil that is wrapped around the surfaces of the part to be heated.

The induction coil creates an electromagnetic field that selectively heats only the surface of metal parts or components within the coil. Induction heating occurs because the parts placed inside the inductor coil have entered into a magnetic field that causes eddy currents from that field to be generated inside the part's surface. The electrical resistance of the metal with focused electrical currents flowing through it generates accurate and focused heat at the surface of the workpiece.

Once this non-contact heating process that uses electromagnetic induction to produce heat near the surface is complete, the part can then be quenched in water or polymer. The heating process causes the heated steel to transform to austenite which then transforms again into martensite during quenching in order to alter the crystalline properties of the outer layer to make it harder, stronger and more wear resistant than the untreated softer, more ductile core of the metal. This method of selective heating allows Bluewater technicians to selectively harden small areas of a part without affecting the part as a whole. 

Bluewater's technicians consider a variety of characteristics during process design prior to performing the induction hardening process such as:

  • The geometry of the part and surface requiring localized heating 
  • The type and shape of inductor coil needed 
  • The amount of electrical current required 
  • The frequency of the alternating magnetic field required
  • The density of the material 
  • The permeability of the material 
  • The time the material is exposed to heat
  • The work piece material chemistry 
  • The final case depth and hardness levels desired

Bluewater's facility in Ridgway, PA specializes in induction hardening of powdered metal components.

Properties of Induction Hardening Components

  • Very quick and efficient process with rapid heating
  • Allows for localized hardening
  • Depth of surface layer hardened can be varied to meet customer requirements
  • The core of the material remains cold during processing and its original properties are unaffected after induction hardening is complete
  • Very little distortion and size change as only a portion of the part is exposed to heating for a short time
  • Typically performed on carbon and alloy steels with a carbon content between 0.30% and 1.00% C
  • Process is uniform, repeatable and controllable
  • High control over quality
  • Different methods of induction hardening can be employed such as single shot hardening and traverse/scan hardening
  • Multiple parts can be treated in a single cycle with some induction machines
  • Can be performed on single pieces to large production volume runs
  • Material costs are reduced as process is compatible with lower hardenability, lower cost alloys
  • Increases durability and resistance to wear

Applications of Induction Hardening

  • Widely used for the surface hardening of steel or steel alloys
  • Powdered metal components
  • Wheel hubs
  • Edge hardening of complex parts
  • Gears
  • Springs
  • Sprockets
  • Axle shafts
  • Pins
  • Steering components
  • Transmission components
  • Power tools
  • Drive shafts

Capabilities Overview
Related Case Studies
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Induction Heating - Reduce Distortion
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