Hydrogen Embrittlement of Spring Steel
The higher the carbon content (in the material), the rougher the surface area and the more hydrogen is absorbed. Hydrogen is released from solution whenever an electric current is sent through finishing tanks that plate springs. Therefore all springs, especially those with residual stresses should be stress relieved before plating. Non ferrous metals are immune to hydrogen embrittlement.
Extension springs should not be stretched so that electroplating can occur inside the spring and between the coils. This causes a stress condition which is highly inclined toward embrittlement. Thin spring steel strip is especially susceptible to embrittlement due to the high carbon content.
Nothing can be done to restore springs that have been damaged due to hydrogen embrittlement; they should be scrapped.
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