Titanium alloys are found in many applications where weight saving, strength, corrosion resistance, and biocompatibility are important design priorities. However, their poor tribological behavior is a major drawback, and many surface engineering processes have been developed to enhance wear in titanium alloys such as nitriding. Plasma (ion) nitriding, originally developed for ferrous alloys, has been adopted to address wear concerns in titanium alloys. Plasma nitriding improves the wear resistance of titanium alloys by the formation of a thin surface layer composed of TiN and Ti2N titanium nitrides (e.g., compound layer). Nonetheless, plasma nitriding treatments of titanium alloys typically involve high temperatures (700–1100°C) that promote detrimental microstructural changes in titanium substrates, formation of brittle surface layers, and deterioration of mechanical properties especially fatigue strength. This chapter summarizes the previous and ongoing investigations in the field of plasma nitriding of titanium alloys, with particular emphasis on the authors’ recent efforts in optimization of the process to achieve tribological improvements while maintaining mechanical properties. The development of low-temperature plasma nitriding treatments for α + β and near-β titanium alloys and further wear improvements by alteration of near-surface microstructure prior to nitriding are also briefly reviewed.
Part of the book: Plasma Science and Technology