Aerospace & Defense Technology - April 2021 - 12

Aerospace Materials

ficiency of operations performed by the
military. Titanium alloys used for making certain components of those guns
offer unique opportunities, not only by
reducing their weight, but also by improving their durability since nitrided
titanium alloys have better wear and
corrosion resistance than nitrided stainless steels[4, 5].

Summary

Figure 3. Engineers and technicians insert 39 sample tubes into the belly of the rover. Each tube is sheathed
in a gold-colored cylindrical enclosure to protect it from contamination. (Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech)

surface and it has a very high hardness
reaching 2000 HV. It is the first portion
of the nitrided layer but the zones underneath also contain Ti2N and Ti2AlN
nitrides and a solid solution diffusion
zone with a slowly diminishing hardness and thickness reaching 0.1 mm[3].

The weight of guns carried by soldiers
or guns installed on aircraft has paramount importance in increasing the ef-

References
1) J. Foltz and M. Gram, " Introduction to
Titanium and Its Alloys " , ASM
Handbook, ASM International Vol. 4E,
Heat Treating of Nonferrous Alloys,
Volume Editor, G. E. Totten, 2016, pp.
481-497.
2) R. R. Boyer & J. Foltz, " Effect of Heat
Treatment on Mechanical Properties of
Titanium Alloys " , ASM Handbook,
ASM International Vol. 4E, Heat
Treating of Nonferrous Alloys, Volume
Editor, G. E. Totten, 2016, pp. 555-572.
3) T. Perless, " Vanadium A Green Metal
Critical to Aerospace and Clean
Energy " , Aerospace & Defense
Technology, August, 2020, pp. 12-16.
4) E. Rolinski, " Surface properties of
plasma nitrided titanium alloys " ,
Materials Science and Engineering,
108(1989) 77-44.
5) E. Rolinski, " Nitriding of Titanium
Alloys " , ASM Handbook, ASM
International Vol. 4E, Heat Treating of
Nonferrous Alloys, Volume Editor, G. E.
Totten, 2016, pp. 604-621.
6) E. Rolinski, " Plasma Assisted Nitriding
and Nitrocarburizing of Steel and other
Ferrous Alloys " , Chapter 11 in
Thermochemical Surface Engineering
of Steels, Ed. E. J. Mittemeijer and M.
A. J. Somers, Pub. Woodhead
Publishing, 2014, pp 413-449.
7) TECH BRIEFS Magazine SAE, Special
Mars 2020 Issue.

www.aerodefensetech.com

Aerospace & Defense Technology, April 2021

Examples of Applications Space

Figure 4. Gun components made of the Ti6Al4V
alloy after plasma/ion nitriding. (Courtesy of
Advanced Heat Treat Corp., Waterloo, Iowa)

nitrogen atoms also reacting with titanium. Chemisorbed or implanted nitrogen diffuses into titanium forming the
layer.
Nitrogen is one of the three interstitials (nitrogen, carbon and hydrogen
when they are in solid solution), which
is the most potential element in surface
strengthening of titanium. In addition,
titanium nitrides are essential in making the surface hard for both titanium
and titanium alloys products [1, 5].
When a part made of titanium alloy is
nitrided, the treated surface has a gold
color characteristic for titanium nitride,
TiN. This nitride is always present in the

Titanium alloys applications are
growing and the many benefits of this
metal will be used to its full capacity, including properties at cryogenic and elevated temperatures. This will be more
likely when a proper surface hardening
technique, eliminating poor tribological performance of the metal is applied.
This technique allows also for formation of the cleanest surface possible. Nitriding is the process that significantly
enhances those properties.
This article was written by Dr. Edward
Rolinski, Senior Scientist; Bill Cowell, VP of
Operations; and Mikel Woods, President;
Advanced Heat Treat Corp. (Waterloo, IA).
For more information, visit http://info.
hotims.com/79412-501.

Aerospace applications comprise a
majority of titanium usage. The recent
space mission of the Mars Rover[7] required application of plasma/ion nitriding for proper surface engineering of
some of its components. The titanium
parts were nitrided to help reduce any
risk for contamination from Earth - the
parts needed to be some of the cleanest
parts ever produced.
As referenced in Figure 3, the Mars
Rover contained gold-colored cylindrical
parts. The gold color demonstrates that
the nitriding process resulted in the presence of titanium nitride TiN and that
treatment was very uniform. The nitride
is also free of contaminations with oxygen and carbon which, when present,
alter color and properties of the surface.

Armament

12

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Aerospace & Defense Technology - April 2021

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