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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  

Ken received a special
"Contributor of the Year" award
from for his numerous
helpful and well researched responses


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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