The evaluation of wear progress of gear tooth flanks made of 16MnCr5 was performed using non-destructive micro-magnetic testing, specifically Barkhausen noise (BN) and incremental permeability (IP). Based on the physical interaction of the microstructure with the magnetic field, the micro-magnetic characterization allowed the analysis of changes of microstructure caused by wear, including phase transformation and development of residual stresses. Due to wide parameter variation and application of bandpass filter frequencies of micro-magnetic signals, it was possible to indicate and separate the main damage mechanisms considering the wear development. It could be shown that the maximum amplitude of BN correlates directly with the profile form deviation and increases with the progress of wear. Surface investigations via optical and scanning electron microscopy indicated strong surface fatigue wear with micro-pitting and micro-cracks, evident in cross-section after 3 × 10⁵ cycles. The result of fatigue on the surface layer was the decrease of residual compression stresses, which was indicated by means of coercivity by BN-analysis. The different topographies of the surfaces, characterized via confocal white light microscopy, were also reflected in maximum BN-amplitude. Using complementary microscopic characterization in the cross-section, a strong correlation between micro-magnetic parameters and microstructure was confirmed and wear progress was characterized in dependence of depth under the wear surface. The phase transformation of retained austenite into martensite according to wear development, measured by means of X-ray diffraction (XRD) and electron backscatter diffraction (EBSD) was also detected by micro-magnetic testing by IP-analysis.
Keywords: micro-magnetic testing; non-destructive testing; surface fatigue; wear.