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topic 27766

Specifications re. hydrogen embrittlement

A discussion started in 2018 but continuing through 2018


Q. We are a group of industries manufacturing precision turned and forged components & are OEM suppliers to the reputed auto industries in India.In our Manufacturing range most of the components are heat treated(30-45 HRC) and followed by electroplating process. We are facing lot of problems with hydrogen embrittlement. We request you to arrange to send us technical detailed literature on Hydrogen de embrittlement(Causes and prevention).

Dinesh Bajaj
manager-projects - Rohtak, Haryana, India

simultaneous (2004)

A. First things first. Exactly why do you think that you have a hydrogen embrittlement problem. Second, what is your current processing cycle.

James Watts
- Navarre, Florida


A. It would be very handy to know what materials you are plating, what types of electroplating you are carrying out and what all your current processes are. It may then be possible to answer a very general question with details aimed specifically at your needs.

trevor crichton
Trevor Crichton
R&D practical scientist
Chesham, Bucks, UK


A. There are ASTM (astm.org ) and ISO standards for minimizing the hydrogen formation, removal of hydrogen and testing for embrittlement damage.

ASTM B849-02 [link by ed. to spec at TechStreet] Standard Specification for Pre-Treatments of Iron or Steel for Reducing Risk of Hydrogen Embrittlement (equivalent to ISO/DIS 9587).

ASTM B850-98 [link by ed. to spec at TechStreet] Standard Guide for Post-Coating Treatments of Steel for Reducing the Risk of Hydrogen Embrittlement (equivalent to ISO/DIS 9588). "The heat treatment shall commence as soon as possible, preferably within 1 hr but not later than 3 hr after plating." Table 1 specifies the temperature and duration of the heat treatment for steels based upon tensile strengths.

ASTM F519-17A [link by ed. to spec at TechStreet] Standard Test Method for Mechanical HYDROGEN EMBRITTLEMENT Evaluation of Plating Processes and Service Environments. This test a quality control requirement for some MIL-spec and aerospace plating.

ASTM B839-04 [link by ed. to spec at TechStreet] Standard Test Method for Residual Embrittlement in Metallic Coated, Externally Threaded Articles, Fasteners, and Rod Inclined Wedge Method (equivalent to ISO/DIS 10587).

ASTM F1624-12 [link by ed. to spec at TechStreet] Standard Test Method for Measurement of Hydrogen Embrittlement Threshold in Steel by the Incremental Step Loading Technique. The above tests are of a pass-fail nature. This one measures the relative susceptibility of a tested steel to embrittlement.

Ken Vlach
- Goleta, California
contributor of the year

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A. Mr Bajaj,

I presume you have discovered that the components snap or crack under load and assume it is Hydrogen Embrittlement. You have not stated whether it is zinc or any other metal you plate and the kind of bath. However here are broad outlines of preventives first. - If the parts are not rusty stay with soak cleaning and a mild acid dip. Note: Intensive acid pickling generates lots of Hydrogen and accompanying embrittlement. So cut down acid pickling to need based levels.

2) Plate in an acid based solution where the least Hydrogen is generated. Cyanide baths generate lots of Hydrogen due to in efficiency levels of 30 to 40 percent. Acid baths have 2 to 5 percent inefficiency levels.

3) De embrittle after Plating . 220 centigrade . 120 to 240 minutes depending on the level of embrittlement. Timings need to be established. Cool in air, do not quench in water. Passivate after cool at Room temp.

Good Luck

These are industry accepted methods for dealing with embrittlement.

Asif Nurie
- New Delhi, India

With deep regret we
sadly advise that
Asif passed away

on Jan 24, 2016

Experimental method for quantifiable hydrogen embrittlement?

February 15, 2018

Q. Is there any experimental method to charge hydrogen in high strength steels and simulate hydrogen embrittlement failures?

Akshayaa Raj
- India

simultaneous February 16, 2018

Hi Akshayaa,

I don't know any method besides pickling with non-inhibited acid and not baking the parts after chromating.

Plating is necessary to encapsulate hydrogen in the part until it is absorbed into the metal structure.

Is this the answer you needed?

Best of luck!

Daniel Montanes
TEL - N FERRARIS - Canuelas, Buenos Aires, Argentina

February 15, 2018

You might take a look at ASTM F 1624; it seems like that is what you are looking for. IMHO (though you didn't ask) there is no substitute for testing real parts under real processing conditions.

Tom Rochester
Plating Systems & Technologies, Inc.
supporting advertiser
Jackson, Michigan, USA
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