Martensitic stainless steels are used in a large number of various industrial applications, e.g. molds for plastic injections and glass moldings, automotive components, cutting tools, surgical and dental instruments. The improvement of their tribological and corrosion properties is a problem of high interest especially in medical applications, where patient safety becomes a priority. The paper covers findings from plasma nitrided AISI 440B (PN-EN or DIN X90CrMoV18) stainless steel corrosion resistance studies. Conventionally heat treated and plasma nitrided in N2:H2 reaction gas mixture (50:50, 65:35 and 80:20, respectively) in two different temperature ranges (380 or 450°C) specimens groups were examined. Microscopic observations and electrochemical corrosion tests were performed using a variety of analytical techniques. As obtained findings show, plasma nitriding of AISI 440B stainless steel, regardless of the process temperature, results in reduction of corrosion current density. Nevertheless, applying thermo-chemical process which requires exceeding temperature of about 400°C is not recommended due to increased risk of steel sensitization to intergranular and stress corrosion. According to the results, material ion nitrided in 450°C underwent leaching corrosion processes, which led to significant disproportion in chemical composition of the corroded and corrosion-free areas. The authors suggest further research into corrosion process of plasma nitrided materials and its degradation products.
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