Metal enhancements: What to Look out For
There are scores of operations offering dozens of metal enhancement programs and promising all kinds of success rates, some rather less reliable than others. Naturally, you want to take advantage of the opportunities to improve the functioning, reliability and longevity of your racing parts. But metal enhancement treatments without the guidance of a well-furnished mind can easily go wrong. “We have seen surface-finish processes that absolutely ruin gears,” says Liberty. “If the cryogenic process is used correctly, it can bring huge benefits, but if used incorrectly, it can be discouragingly detrimental. Don’t make the mistake of assuming the processor always knows what is best for your racing part. To precipitate the loss of a perfectly good part is a waste. Always ask the searching questions.”
The key to success in enhancing race parts is finding a qualified professional with a sound understanding of the microscopic structure of metal. Provide them with all pertinent information regarding the failing part or the part most likely to fail and, if possible, provide them with its material properties. Finally, understand there is no cookie-cutter combination that will automatically enhance every part. Every part can be enhanced, but it must be considered separately.
Metallurgist Michael Pfeifer says it best, “It is important to recognize that metals are not slabs of stuff, but instead consist of various microscopic structures that can be manipulated to obtain specific properties. Engineers that are adept at selecting and controlling these microscopic structures greatly increase their chances of making superior parts.”
Generally, Liberty’s uses shot peening to improve load capacity. The thermal stabilization process is applied to improve resistance to surface fractures. Surface enhancement techniques are employed to reduce friction and cryogenics to increase resistance to wear and fractures.
Check back next week when we wrap up our examination of why parts fail and how to prevent it from happening to you.
Text by Sam Logan
Photos by Moore Good Ink