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Malcomize of 316SS material


My name is Martin Greene, I am a quality specialist for a company which manufactures air and gas compressor valves.

We regularly send a variety of components for a Malcomizing surface treatment to improve wear and fatigue resistance. Malcomizing is similar to gas nitriding but requires an activator to destroy the protective oxide layer on stainless steel, It then hardens the surface through the diffusion of nitrogen. This is an effective process which has worked well on our 17-4, 410 and 420 stainless steel parts. Our problem is with 316SS material, which we find resists penetration to required depth. This produces a thin brittle shell which chips at the slightest knock, defeating the whole purpose of our efforts to improve the wear on this soft material.

We cannot substitute or harden the material. Any solutions or recommendations are welcome.



Your vendor should resolve this problem. Either contact directly, or try posting on Bodycote's Technical Advice Forum. As an alternative, consider their low temperature carbon diffusion process for austenitic stainless steels. They claim that it hardens without forming chromium carbides; thus it does not adversely affect the corrosion resistance.

Ken Vlach
- Goleta, California honored Ken for his countless helpful,
well researched responses. He 'disappeared' in 2008
never answering our several inquiries about his
situation. But we believe that this is his obit, and
would greatly appreciate hearing from anyone who
knew him. Rest in peace, Ken. Thank you for your
hard work which we all continue to benefit from.


Bodycote has a process called Kolsterising that is capable of providing a diffusion hardened surface on Type 316 stainless steel parts. I recommend you contact them for more information.

Toby Padfield
- Troy, MI USA

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