Stainless steel fastener hardening tech wins R&D 100 Award

A new innovation that boosts the hardness of stainless steel fasteners has won one of the internationally recognised R&D 100 Awards 2022.

The technology, developed by Taiwan’s MIRDC, was designed to combine the corrosion resistance of stainless steel fasteners with the hardness of carbon steel fasteners (see Torque Magazine issue 66). The ‘Corrosion-Resistant, Surface Hardening System Equipment for Austenite Stainless Steel (CRSH)’ has been applied to construction fastener material Austenitic (300-series) stainless steels, which are highly corrosion resistant and widely used. When treated, the stainless steel fasteners have high levels of hardness and good corrosion resistance.

Through precise production controls and special design, gas is used to treat the stainless-steel surface. The hardness of the stainless steel is enhanced through gas nitriding, carburising, or carbonitriding, which allows the surface hardness to be over HV 1,200. The hardness is far above normal carbon steel and it retains its original corrosion resistance. The process is also able to handle large amounts of complex shapes at one time. Additionally, it can provide low quantity, high variety customised processing, and is equipped with smart production and systematic service functions.

Now being applied on fasteners in the semiconductor industry

Margaret Kao, Chairwoman of Marketech International Corp., stated that the semiconductor industry has always been an important pillar for Taiwan. The parts used in the machines are sophisticated and require corrosion resistance and high hardness. If the fasteners become stuck in the equipment due to low hardness, it would increase the difficulty of repairs which would then affect the production process of semiconductors. Marketech and their OEM semiconductor customers hoped to use this technology to increase the hardness of stainless steel, thereby increasing the precision of their equipment quality. When they found out that the MIRDC possessed this technology, they sought to enter into a partnership with the Centre. The corrosion resistant/high hardness stainless steel parts were introduced in US and Japan semiconductor plants for testing, and they received great praise from photolithography companies in Japan and the US. At the present stage, the technology is being introduced in system equipment of Taiwanese manufacturing. In view of the developments of the semiconductor industry in Kaohsiung and the 5GAIoT industry, it has been announced that a Kaohsiung office will be established in the Asia New Bay Area-5GAIoT to help boost the government's plan of key semiconductor equipment localisation.

MIRDC acting president Chih-Lung Lin said a characteristic of stainless steel is that it is corrosion resistant, but its problem is low hardness. The Centre is using this equipment to remove the oxidised layer on the surface of stainless steel then increasing its hardness. This not only restores the corrosion resistance of stainless steel but also improves its hardness. In the future, the technology will be made available to more companies, such as LEADTECH International Co., Ltd. (stainless steel gaskets), FANCY Food Service Equipment Co., Ltd. (Stainless steel cooking surfaces), and Taiwan Shan Yin International Co., Ltd. (self-tapping screws). MIRDC will continue to help companies produce samples to drive new product development and corporate investment. The aim of the Centre is to lead related stainless-steel industries towards high-value developments

CRSH was developed alongside the Department for Industrial Technology, MOEA.