Ultrafast Heating and Initial Microstructure Effect on Phase Transformation

Ultrafast Heating and Initial Microstructure Effect on Phase Transformation Evolution of a CrMo Steel, Metals 2019, 9, 72; doi: 10.3390/met9010072
Spyros Papaefthymiou, Vassilios Karamitros and Marianthi Bouzouni
Main target of the present work is to elucidate the effect of both initial microstructure and heating rate on phase transformations that occur during ultrafast processing. For this purpose, two initial microstructures, a ferritic-pearlitic and a soft-annealed microstructure were considered. We applied different heating rates (10oC/s, 200 oC/s, 300 oC/s) up to the peak austenitization temperature, θ 900oC. The evolving microstructure is analysed via SEM and EBSD, whereas the carbide dissolution and austenite formation is simulated with Thermocalc® and DICTRA software. Data obtained in this research proves that, when the heating rate increases, the carbide dissolution rate is disseminated. Compared to a conventional heating rate, where the local chemical composition homogenizes as a result of diffusion, rapid reheating leads to intense segregation of the substitutional atoms at the cementite/austenite interface and turns diffusion to a sluggish process. This fact, combined to the infinitesimal time for diffusion, forms an inhomogeneous carbon distribution along the microstructure. This inhomogeneity is further enhanced by the presence of increased carbides’ size present in the initial microstructure. Due to rapid heating, these carbides cannot be decomposed since the diffusion distance of alloying elements increases and the diffusion of alloying elements is impeded during ultrafast heating, thus, remain undissolved at peak austenitization temperature. Their presence and effect in heterogeneous ferrite nucleation restrict austenite grain growth. Consequently, fine austenite grains in conjunction with their chemical heterogeneity lead to the coexistence of fine martensite, bainite laths and undissolved carbides in the final microstructure after quenching.
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