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Laser heat treating and electron beam heat treating

Gearing may also be heat treated by other means, including laser heat treating and electron beam heat treating.
Both laser and electron beam surface hardening of gears are selective in nature and are generally applied to gears smaller than those routinely hardened by other methods. The production quantity of any gear must be sufficient to justify the cost of capital equipment and set-up to surface hardened by either process, such as quantity production for the automotive
industry. These processes are not available from commercial heat treaters. Thermal energy for heating the surface to the austenitizing temperature is supplied by either the laser (light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation) or electron (kinetic energy of electrons) beam, while the underlying mass provides the heat sink to quench harden the surface. Use of electron beam heat treating for gear teeth is restricted, however, to full gear tooth contours, and is better suited for flat than curved surfaces. This is true because the stream of electrons must have line of sight access to the surface to be
hardened with a beam impingement angle of at least 25 degree (25-90 degrees impingement angle range).Dual laser beam optics have been developed, however, for flank and root contour surface hardening of gear teeth.
Reference should be made to the ASM Metals Handbook, 9th Edition, Volume 4 on Heat Treating for additional information on laser and electron beam heat treating, as well as other modifications of heat treatments applied to gearing.

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