How Molybdenum, Nitrogen and Nickel Affects Steel Properties?

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After speaking about aluminum, manganese, chromium and copper, in today’s post we will further focus our attention on three other alloying elements (molybdenum, nitrogen and nickel). And most importantly, how each influence steel properties.

Molybdenum: a transition metal.

Molybdenum (that known with the symbol Mo) is considered a transition metal thanks to its atomic number (42) on the periodic table of the elements. This element, together with steel, increases

  • hardenability
  • hot resistance
  • hardness and wear resistance
  • corrosion resistance of stainless steel in specific environments (e.g. acids etc..)
  • mechanical resistance to high temperature (alias creep resistant)

In addition, this element prevent the tempering embrittlement and decrease the sensitivity to overheating.


How the nitrogen is used?

Nitrogen (symbol N) is considered a non metal. What are the applications of this chemical element? The nitrogen is used only in some metallurgical processes, in fact, it is not always an element suitable to use. Indeed, this element if is subjected to high temperatures react with certain metals and this is intentional in some cases. Nitrogen is used in sintering and annealing of steels; Moreover, it is crucial in hardening of steels in vacuum furnaces. This element absorbed during the production process, in fact, it is always present from 0.003% to 0.015% levels. Nitrogen encourages the phenomenon of ageing in chromium steels. How do different special steels (e.g. those steels) change when adding nitrogen?

The latter is used to increase

  • mechanical properties (precipitation hardening)
  • corrosion resistance (alias pitting)

In addition, if the nitrogen is used (instead of nickel) in biocompatible steels (all elements that are used as the materials for the construction of biomedical devices), it is able to stabilize the austenite.


Nichel: the silvery metal.

Nichel(Ni) is a silvery metal and it is one of four elements that are ferromagnetic at approximately room temperature. Nickel belongs to the transition metals and is hard, malleable and ductile. Together with steel, it increases

  • hardenability (even slightly)
  • resistance and hardness (after the heat-treat)

In addition, nickel can improve both strength/resistance and oxidation resistance to heat, as well as decrease the sensitivity to overheating. On stainless steel, nickel help the corrosion resistance and if it exists in a correct percentage induces austenitic array. Moreover, the presence of nickel determines the toughness at low temperature.

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