Press  | 06/25/2015

Induction hardening of steering pinions

Steering pinions are integral components in steering systems, which is why millions of these components are manufactured every year. Production standardization is the trend among manufacturers and component suppliers in the automotive engineering industry – perfectly uniform production processes and machine systems which can always produce the same quality at various locations. Of course, the same also applies to the production of steering pinions.

Case hardening versus induction hardening

Components, which are intended to transmit steering force to the steering gear millions of times throughout their lifetime, must, of course, be hardened to withstand the loads involved. In turn, this creates a logistic effort not be underestimated, especially if hardening is done using the case hardening method by a service provider. The parts need to undergo a complex transportation process between heat-treatment vendor and manufacturer, and this costs not only time but also money. In addition, case hardening requires a more complex process of post-processing in order to compensate for warping caused by the heat.

The alternative to this process is hardening the workpieces directly on the production line without time delays and complex transport logistics. This is made possible by induction hardening in which the entire hardening process, i.e. annealing, hardening and cooling, takes only a few seconds.

Hardening controlled precisely

eldec has made a name for itself in the development and manufacture of highly efficient induction heating technology. Using this technology involves highly precise transfer of thermal energy to the workpiece by precise control of the eddy currents and frequencies with which this energy is transferred. This highly precise control allows heating (and thus also hardening) of only those parts of the workpiece which are to be hardened. So, in the case of a steering pinion, only the surface area of the toothing. This is why the process is also so fast: the entire workpiece is not heated, rather only a few millimeters of the edge.

Hardening technology from the experts

With its hardening machines of the “MIND” Series (M-odular IND-uction), eldec also offers a machine solution which can be optimally configured depending on workpiece size, required hardening finish and batch size. This involves tailor-made production not only of the machining area but also of the complete system, from the generator and the cooling system to the inductor. In combination with other machines from the EMAG Group, this is how it is possible to implement a complete turnkey system which sets high productivity standards.