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Principles of Heat Treating of Steels

Abstract: Steels can exhibit a wide variety of properties depending on composition as well as the phases and micro-constituents present, which in turn depend on the heat treatment. The basis for the understanding of the heat treatment of steels is the Fe-C phase diagram. It actually includes two diagrams; the stable iron-graphite diagram and the metastable Fe-Fe3C diagram. The stable condition usually takes a very long time to develop, especially in the low-temperature and low-carbon range, and therefore the metastable diagram is of more interest. Steel is usually defined as an alloy of iron and carbon with the carbon content between a few hundreds of a percent up to about 2 wt%. Other alloying elements can amount in total to about 5 wt% in low-alloy steels and higher in more highly alloyed steels such as tool steels, stainless steels (>10.5%) and heat resisting CrNi steels (>18%). Steels can exhibit a wide variety of properties depending on composition as well as the phases and micro-constituents present, which in turn depend on the heat treatment.

The Fe-C Phase Diagram
The basis for the understanding of the heat treatment of steels is the Fe-C phase diagram (Fig 1). Figure 1 actually shows two diagrams; the stable iron-graphite diagram (dashed lines) and the metastable Fe-Fe3C diagram. The stable condition usually takes a very long time to develop, especially in the low-temperature and low-carbon range, and therefore the metastable diagram is of more interest. The Fe-C diagram shows which phases are to be expected at equilibrium (or metastable equilibrium) for different combinations of carbon concentration and temperature. We distinguish at the low-carbon end ferrite (α-iron),which can at most dissolve 0.028% C, at 727°C (1341°F) and austenite -iron, which can dissolve 2.11 wt% C at 1148°C (2098°F). At the carbon-rich side we find cementite (Fe3C). Of less interest, except for highly alloyed steels, is the δ-ferrite existing at the highest temperatures. Between the single-phase fields are found regions with mixtures of two phases, such as ferrite + cementite, austenite + cementite, and ferrite + austenite. At the highest temperatures, the liquid phase field can be found and below this are the two phase fields liquid + austenite, liquid + cementite, and liquid + δ-ferrite. In heat treating of steels, the liquid phase is always avoided. Some important boundaries at single-phase fields have been given special names:

A1, the so-called eutectoid temperature, which is the minimum temperature for austenite

• •

A3, the lower-temperature boundary of the austenite region at low carbon contents, that is, the γ/γ + α boundary Acm, the counterpart boundary for high carbon contents, that is, the γ/γ + Fe3C boundary

The carbon content at which the minimum austenite temperature is attained is called the eutectoid carbon content (0.77 wt% C). The ferrite-cementite phase mixture of this composition formed during cooling has a characteristic appearance and is called pearlite and can be treated as a microstructural entity or microconstituent. It is an aggregate of alternating ferrite and cementite lamellae that degenerates into cementite particles dispersed with a ferrite matrix after extended holding close to A1.

Fig. 1. The Fe-Fe3C diagram. The Fe-C diagram in Fig 1 is of experimental origin. The knowledge of the thermodynamic principles and modern thermodynamic data now permits very accurate calculations of this diagram. This is particularly useful when phase boundaries must be extrapolated and at low temperatures where the experimental equilibria are extremely slow to develop. If alloying elements are added to the iron-carbon alloy (steel), the position of the A1, A3, and Acm boundaries and the eutectoid composition are changed. It suffices here to mention that 1. all important alloying elements decrease the eutectoid carbon content, 2. the austenite-stabilizing elements manganese and nickel decrease A, and 3. the ferrite-stabilizing elements chromium, silicon, molybdenum, and tungsten increase A1.

Transformation Diagrams
The kinetic aspects of phase transformations are as important as the equilibrium diagrams for the heat treatment of steels. The metastable phase martensite and the morphologically metastable microconstituent bainite, which are of extreme importance to the properties of steels, can generally form with comparatively rapid cooling to ambient temperature. That is when the diffusion of carbon and alloying elements is suppressed or limited to a very short range.

normally in the austenitic range after holding there long enough to obtain homogeneous austenite without undissolved carbides. Martensite.7 wt%. If these unstable metastable products are subsequently heated to a moderately elevated temperature. The procedure starts at a high temperature. The A1 and A3 temperatures are indicated as well as the hardness. These include: • • • • Isothermal transformation diagrams describing the formation of austenite. ITh Diagrams (Formation of Austenite). followed by rapid cooling to the desired hold temperature. The reheating process is sometimes known as tempering or annealing. they decompose to more stable distributions of ferrite and carbide. can be derived. which will be referred to as ITh diagrams Isothermal transformation (IT) diagrams. usually defined as 1% and 99% transformation. Between A1 and A3 only ferrite can form from austenite. The development of the microstructure with time can be followed by holding small specimens in a lead or salt bath and quenching them one at a time after increasing holding times and measuring the amount of phases formed in the microstructure with the aid of a microscope. the volume decreases with the formation of the dense austenite phase. Its hardness increases monotonically with carbon content up to about 0. respectively. describing the decomposition of austenite Continuous heating transformation (CRT) diagrams Continuous cooling transformation (CCT) diagrams Isothermal Transformation Diagrams This type of diagram shows what happens when a steel is held at a constant temperature for a prolonged period. One can conveniently describe what is happening during transformation with transformation diagrams. the hardest constituent. . forms during severe quenches from supersaturated austenite by a shear transformation. the start and finish times for austenite formation. During the formation of austenite from an original microstructure of ferrite and pearlite or tempered martensite. Four different types of such diagrams can be distinguished. The transformation of an ambient temperature structure like ferrite-pearlite or tempered martensite to the elevated-temperature structure of austenite or austenite-carbide is also of importance in the heat treatment of steel. also referred to as time-temperaturetransformation (TTT) diagrams.Bainite is a eutectoid decomposition that is a mixture of ferrite and cementite. IT Diagrams (Decomposition of Austenite). Above A3 no transformation can occur. From the elongation curves. The cooling was started from 850°C (1560°F).

but rather a continuous changing temperature during either cooling or heating. . Like the ITh diagrams. more directly applicable information is obtained if the diagram is constructed from dilatometric data using a continuously increasing or decreasing temperature. Therefore. it is important to clearly state what type of cooling curve the transformation diagram was derived from. The M. which produces a more-brittle martensitic microstructure. Use of a constant cooling rate is very common in experimental practice. To high a temperature may cause unwanted austenite grain growth. The more severe the cooling medium. CCT Diagrams As for heating diagrams. However.CRT Diagrams In practical heat treatment situations. temperature is unaffected. the longer the times to which the C-shaped curves are shifted. One can also find curves for so-called natural cooling rates according to Newton’s law of cooling. this regime rarely occurs in a practical situation. the CRT diagrams are useful in predicting the effect of short-time austenitization that occurs in induction and laser hardening. One typical question is how high the maximum surface temperature should be in order to achieve complete austenitization for a given heating rate. Each CCT diagram contains a family of curves representing the cooling rates at different depths of a cylinder with a 300 mm (12 in. Close to the surface the characteristics of the cooling rare can be very complex. These curves simulate the behavior in the interior of a large part such as the cooling rate of a Jominy bar at some distance from the quenched end. a constant temperature is not required. The slowest cooling rate represents the center of the cylinder.) diameter.

It should also be remembered that the transformation diagrams are sensitive to the exact alloying content within me allowable composition range. It should be noted. CCT (a) and TTT (b) diagrams. that transformation diagrams can not be used to predict the response to thermal histories that are very much different from the ones used to construct the diagrams. .Fig.2. For instance. however. first cooling rapidly to slightly above Ms and then reheating to a higher temperature will give more rapid transformation than shown in the IT diagram because nucleation is greatly accelerated during the introductory quench.

The temperatures are the same as those given for full annealing. 1. The quenching is necessary to suppress the normal breakdown of austenite into ferrite and cementite. . Uneven heating.6 min in salt or lead baths. which therefore cause hardening with mild quenching (e. Uneven heating.g.g.6 min in salt or lead baths. The soaking time in air furnaces should be 1. To obtain this. while the maximum effect is obtained at about 0. and to cause a partial decomposition at such a low temperature to produce martensite.The quenching is necessary to suppress the normal breakdown of austenite into ferrite and cementite. which is greatly reduced by the presence of alloying elements. oil and hardening steels). The temperatures are the same as those given for full annealing. To obtain this. and to cause a partial decomposition at such a low temperature to produce martensite. steel requires a critical cooling velocity. steel requires a critical cooling velocity.2 min for each mm of cross-section or 0.2 min for each mm of cross-section or 0. Hardening of steel is obtained by a suitable quench from within or above the critical range. oil and hardening steels). overheating and excessive scaling should be avoided.3 % carbon cannot be hardened effectively.Quench hardening of steel Abstract: Hardening of steel is obtained by a suitable quench from within or above the critical range. which therefore cause hardening with mild quenching (e.7 % due to an increased tendency to retain austenite in high carbon steels Fig. overheating and excessive scaling should be avoided. which is greatly reduced by the presence of alloying elements. The soaking time in air furnaces should be 1. Steels with less than 0.

whale. To prevent steam bubbles forming soft spots. long cylindrical objects should be quenched vertically. a water quenching bath should be agitated. The quenching velocity of oil is much less than water. Variation of hardness of martensite and bainite with carbon content Water is one of the most efficient quenching media where maximum hardness is required. flat sections edgeways and thick sections should enter the bath first. a substance with an inverse solubility which therefore deposits on the object to slow rate of cooling. Where hardness can be sacrificed.Figure 1.012 mm. Consequently cracking and distortion of the object are liable to occur after quenching. These tend to oxidise and form sludge with consequent lowering of efficiency. Retained austenite is unstable and as it changes dimensions may alter. Tempering and toughening The martensite of quenched tool steel is exceedingly brittle and highly stressed. This is . to warm the steel below the critical range in order to relieve stresses and to allow the arrested reaction of cementite precipitation to take place. Intermediate rates between water and oil can be obtained with water containing 10-30 % Ucon. To minimise distortion. Ferrite and troostite are formed even in small sections. but it is liable to cause distortion and cracking of the article.g. e. Fully hardened and tempered steels develop the best combination of strength and notchductility. dies may alter 0. cotton seed and mineral oils are used. therefore. It is necessary.

and it produces an increase in the ratio of the elastic limit to the ultimate tensile strength. shear blades for metals Punches. immediately after quenching. Sorbite is commonly found in heat-treated constructional steels. setts for steel Saws for wood. salt (e. Alloys such as stainless steel form thinner films than do carbon steels for a given temperature and hence produce a colour lower in the series. 200-450°C. • • • 150-250°C. instead of 230°C (Table 1). pale straw corresponds to 300°C. A treatment of quenching and tempering in this temperature range is frequently referred to as toughening. springs Toughening for constructional steels Brownish-purple 260 . After the tempering. Temper colours formed on a cleaned surface are still used occasionally as a guide to temperature. They exist due to the interference effects of thin films of oxide formed during tempering. such as axles. except for steels susceptible to temper brittleness. Brinell hardness is 350-450. Tempering is carried out to an increasing extent under pyrometric control in oil. equal parts sodium and potassium nitrates for 200-600°C) or lead baths and also in furnaces in which the air is circulated by fans. the objects may be cooled either rapidly or slowly.known as tempering. 450-700°C. to relieve internal stress and to decompose austenite without much softening. shafts and crankshafts subjected to dynamic stresses. Table 1. It etches more slowly than troostite and has a Brinell hardness of 220-350. The reactions in tempering occur slowly. reamers Press tools. twist drills. and they act similarly to oil films on water. axes Cold chisels.g. The structure is known as sorbite. which at the higher temperatures becomes coarsely spheroidised. snaps. Used to toughen the steel at the expense of hardness. The precipitated cementite coalesces into larger masses and the steel becomes softer. to prevent related cracking. drills Taps. Temper Colour Pale straw Dark straw Brown Purple Dark purple Blue Blue Temperature °C 230 240 250 270 280 300 450-650 Objects Planing and slotting tools Milling cutters. Reaction time as well as temperature of heating is important. For example. The object is heated in an oil bath. cups.

When sufficiently enriched the Fe3C transforms to an alloy carbide. 50-200°C. which occur when high carbon martensite is tempered. for an example. planing. In chromium steel. the hardness is maintained constant up to about 500°C or in some cases it rises to a peak followed by a gradual drop due to breakdown of coherence and coalescence of the carbide particles. steel E in Fig. This is frequently carried out in engineering works by heating the tool to 730°C. The overlapping changes. or by resolution of existing iron carbides and fresh nucleation of coherent carbide with considerable hardening that counteracts the normal softening that occurs during tempering. Martensite breaks down to a transition precipitate known as c-carbide (Fe2. Stage 2. When over-ageing starts the V4C3 grows in the grain boundaries and also forms a Widmanstätten pattern of plates within the grain. Stage 3. shaping tools and chisels. Then the whole tool is quenched. In steels containing one alloying addition.For turning. Decomposition of retained austenite to bainite and decrease in hardness. are shown in Fig. After further enrichment this carbide may be superseded by another and this formation of transition carbides may be repeated several times before the equilibrium carbide forms. Carbide changes in alloy steel at 400-700°C. This agehardening process is known as secondary hardening and it enhances high temperature creep properties of steel (e. Conversion of the aggregate of low carbon martensite and ccarbide into ferrite and cementite precipitated along twins. When cutting end gets cold. 2).4C) across twins and a low carbon martensite which results in slight dispersion hardening. . Changes during tempering The principles underlying the tempering of quenched steels have a close similarity to those of precipitation hardening. 205-305°C. Fig. seems to stabilise the size of the cementite particles over a range 200500°C. cementite forms first and the alloy diffuses to it. 250-500°C. Stage 4. followed by quenching the cutting end vertically. decrease in volume and electrical resistance. In some alloy steels. 3. therefore. which gradually coarsens to give visible particles and rapid softening. Chromium. and the carbides which decompose are not necessarily followed by carbides based on the same alloy elements. only the cutting parts need hardening. The transformation can also occur in situ by gradual exchange of atoms without any appreciable hardening.g. Oxidation can be reduced by coating the tool with charcoal and oil. In steels containing several carbide-forming elements the reactions are often more complex. 2 and as follows: • • • • Stage 1. changes are: Fe3C→Cr7C3→Cr23C6. Vanadium and molybdenum form a fine dispersion of coherent precipitates (V4C3Mo2C) in a ferrite matrix with considerable hardening. it is cleaned with the stone and the heat from the shank of the tool is allowed to temper the cutting edge to the correct colour.

Fine e-carbides across twins . Laths with high density of dislocation c) Tempered 500°C.Figure 2.Tempering curves for 0.35 % C steel and die steel a) As quenched. Recrystallisation cementite re-nucleated equioxed ferrite boundaries f) Tempered 100°C. Widmanstätten precipitation of carbides within laths d) Tempered 600°C. Recovery of dislocation structure into cells with laths e) High C twinned martensite b) Tempered 300°C.

This can sometimes be obtained by boring out metal from bulky parts without materially affecting the design. A hole drilled from the side to meet a central hole may cause cracking and it should be drilled right through and temporarily stopped up with asbestos wool during heattreatment. d) in pieces of irregular section and when sharp re-entrant angles are present in the design. autotempering. Low carbon lath martensites have a high Ms temperature and some tempering often occurs on cooling. c) normal thermal contraction.. owing to the great change in size of section. The centre may be troostitic and contraction (b) started. Quench cracks The volume changes. Tempering at 300°C causes precipitation of carbides within the laths in Widmanstätten form (Fig. c) owing to uneven quenching.e. Such cracks may occur some time after the quenching or in the early stages of tempering. The relation of design to heat-treatment is very important. i. and is mainly martensitic. A crack would also form at the junction of the solid gear with the shaft. There is a serious danger of cracks at the roots of the teeth. are: a) expansion when gamma iron transforms to ferrite. Quench cracks are liable to occur: a) due to presence of non-metallic inclusions. The outside cools most quickly. cementite masses. Stresses are set up which may cause the metal either to distort or to crack if the ductility is insufficient for plastic flow to occur. which occur when austenite is cooled. Tempering at 600°C gives rise to recrystallisation into equioxed ferrite with carbides re-nucleated at the boundaries. Coherent cementite along twins. Carbides grow and spheroidise Figure 3. c-carbides dissolve h) Tempered 400°C. When steel is quenched these volume changes occur very rapidly and unevenly throughout the specimen. Breakdown of twinned structure. 3). b) when austenite is coarse grained due to high quenching temperature. in which contraction (b) has not occurred. When steel has been chosen which needs a water-quench. 4.g) Tempered 200°C. Tempering at 500°C promotes the recovery of the dislocation tangle into cells within the laths with carbides precipitated along boundaries. examples are given in Fig. This design could be improved by machining the metal away under the rim to . b) contraction when cementite is precipitated. Articles of irregular section need special care. then the designer must use generous fillets in the corners and a uniform section should be aimed at. etc.

Troostite and martensite are formed. 3. Martensite is formed. Arrest temperatures are depressed. Fine laminated troostite is formed. As the rate of cooling of an austenitised steel increases the time allowed for the changes is shortened and the reactions are incomplete at 600-700°C. Figure 4. The carbon atoms segregate into areas to form cementite. with shorter movements of atoms and finer structures. known as Ar". Accelerated cooling causes another arrest to appear at 350-150°C. The relation of design to heat-treatment Fundamentals of heat-treatment Heat-treatment of steel involves the change of austenite. .make a cross-section of uniform mass. 4. Ar3 merges with Ar1 producing a single depressed point known as Ar". Atomic movements are rapid at high temperatures but increasingly sluggish as the temperature decreases. Residual austenite. At temperatures below about 250°C diffusion is so slow that another transition structure is formed. The effect of rapid cooling on the critical points is complex (Fig. 5). Increase in the rate of cooling has the following effects: 1. into a body-centred cubic ferrite with a low solubility for carbon. This involves mobility or diffusion of the carbon atoms and both time and temperature are important. 2. transforms at lower temperatures. Rapid quenching causes Ar" to merge into Ar". therefore. a face-centred cubic iron lattice containing carbon atoms in the interstices.

uneven cooling). The arrest due to the formation of bainite at 500-250°C does not usually appear with carbon steel. cold-worked sheets and wire. 2. cooling at a predetermined rate. b. To relieve internal stresses induced by some previous treatment (rolling. heating the steel to a certain temperature. "soaking" at this temperature for a time sufficient to allow the necessary changes to occur. To remove coarseness of grain. 3. The purpose of annealing may involve one or more of the following aims: . forging. and castings.5. The treatment is applied to forgings. c. but is present with many alloy steels. Effect of cooling rate on the transformation of austenite Annealing Abstract: The purpose of annealing may involve one or more of the following aims: 1. Figure 5. The operation consists of: a. To soften the steel and to improve machinability.

To soften the steel and to improve machinability. Prolonged annealing induces greater ductility at the expense of strength. forging. A serious embrittlement sometimes arises after prolonged treatment owing to the formation of cementitic films at the ferrite boundaries. To remove coarseness of grain. The ferrite grains also become larger. The recrystallisation temperature of pure iron is in the region of 500°C consequently the higher temperature of 650°C brings about rapid recrystallisation of the distorted ferrite Since mild steel contains only a small volume of strained pearlite a high degree of softening is induced. . This is known as "divorced pearlite". To relieve internal stresses induced by some previous treatment (rolling. cracks are liable to start at these cementite membranes. "soaking" at this temperature for a time sufficient to allow the necessary changes to occur. cold-worked sheets and wire. 2. 1b illustrates the structure formed consisting of the polyhedral ferrite with elongated pearlite (see also Fig. cooling at a predetermined rate. This is known as "process" or "close" annealing. Sub-critical Anneal It is not always necessary to heat the steel into the critical range. heating the steel to a certain temperature. uneven cooling). 2). owing to the tendency of the cementite in the strained pearlite to "ball-up" or spheroidise. 3. Fig. As shown. and is commonly employed for wire and sheets. The operation consists of: a. 1c. c. as illustrated in Fig. and castings. With severe forming operations. Mild steel products which have to be repeatedly cold worked in the processes of manufacture are softened by annealing at 500° to 650°C for several hours. particularly if the metal has been cold worked a critical amount. b.1. The treatment is applied to forgings.

slow cool 4-5 days. Effect of annealing at 650°C on worked steel. This can be eliminated by heating between 700-920°C and rapidly quenching. Pearlite remains elongated (x600) The modern tendency is to use batch or continuous annealing furnaces with an inert purging gas. Effect of annealing cold-worked mild steel Figure 2. There is little chance for grain growth and it produces harder and stiffer strip. useful for cans and panelling. soak and cool 30-40 sec. "Double reduced" steel is formed by heavy reduction (~50%) after annealing but it suffers from directionality. Continuous annealing is used for thin strip (85% Red) running at about 400 m/min. Open coil annealing consists in recoiling loosely with controlled space between wraps and it reduces stickers and discoloration. .Figure 1. soak 12 hrs. Ferrite recrystallised. Batch annealing usually consists of 24-30 hrs 670°C. The cycle is approximately up to 660°C 20 sec.

7 0.2 0.1 0. however.5 0.temp. Figure 3. Normalising differs from the full annealing in that the metal is allowed to cool in still air. Changes on Annealing Consider the heating of a 0. improving machinability and also when softening and refinement of structure are both required.9% carbon both treatments consist in heating to about 2550°C above the upper critical point indicated by the Fe-Fe3C equilibrium diagram (Fig. The structure and properties produced. varying with the thickness of metal treated. At the lower critical point (Ac1) each "grain" of pearlite changes to several minute austenite crystals and as the temperature is . the steel is very slowly cooled. The tensile strength. This treatment is known as full annealing. % Avg. For higher carbon steels the temperature is 50°C above the lower critical point.9 to 1. After soaking at the temperature for a time dependent on the thickness of the article. 3).Full Anneal and Normalising Treatments For steels with less than 0. Heat-treatment ranges of steels Average annealing and hardening temperatures are: Carbon. yield point. °C 0. and is used for removing strains from forgings and castings.3% carbon steel.3 0. reduction of area and impact value are higher than the figures obtained by annealing.3 910 860 830 810 770 760 These temperatures allow for the effects of slight variations in the impurities present and also the thermal lag associated with the critical changes.

At faster or slower rates the overheated structure may be eliminated. The minimum overheating temperature depends on the "purity" of the steel and is substantially lower in general for electric steel than for open-hearth steel. diminishes. still with the production of fine austenite crystals. evenly distributed among the relatively coarse pearlite. the smaller their size the better the distribution of the ferrite and pearlite. involving MnS. finally disappearing at the upper critical point (Ac3). many ferrite crystals are formed at the austenite boundaries and a network structure of small ferrite crystals is produced with fine pearlite in the centre. aircraft engine makers were troubled with overheating (above 1250°C) in drop-stampings made from alloy steels. This. The overheated structure in these alloy steels occurs when they are cooled at an intermediate rate from the high temperature. which affects both the ferrite and the pearlite. with its characteristic lack of both ductility and resistance to shock. Overheated. On a certain temperature the growth. As the steel approaches the solidus temperature. The properties obtained subsequently depend on the coarseness of the pearlite and ferrite and their relative distribution. since the austenite crystals are then small. which render the steel unfit for service. together with the fact that the overheating temperature is significantly raised in the presence of high contents of MnS and inclusions. Treatment just above the upper critical point should be aimed at. Burnt and Underannealed Structures When the steel is heated well above the upper critical temperature large austenite crystals form. As the temperature is raised above Ac3 the crystals increase in size. Surface decarburisation usually occurs during the overheating. except as . With a higher rate of cooling. These depend on: a) the size of the austenite grains. During the Second World War. ferrite commences to deposit on a few nuclei at the austenite boundaries. thus emphasising the difference between overheating and burning. Slow cooling gives rise to the Widmanstätten type of structure. which is rapid at first. This is known as an overheated structure. Such a steel is said to be burnt and it is characterised by the presence of brittle iron oxide films. This type of overheating can occur in an atmosphere free from oxygen. Large rounded ferrite crystals are formed. incipient fusion and oxidation take place at the grain boundaries. Time is necessary for the carbon to become uniformly distributed in this austenite. and it can be refined by reheating the steel to just above the upper critical point. In the hardened and tempered condition the fractured surface shows dull facets. By cooling slowly through the critical range. suggests that this overheating is conected in some way with a diffusion and precipitation process. b) the rate of cooling through the critical range.raised the excess ferrite is dissolved.

6hr. 2 shows the macroform of the primary crystals. revealed by the segregation of the impurities. The effects of this segregation have to be effaced as much as possible by annealing and this necessitates temperatures higher than those used for worked steels. with its associated brittleness. The following properties of a 0. revealed by the segregation of the impurities. .3 % carbon steel illustrate the improvement obtained by annealing: Table 1 TS El Cold BH YP MPa % Bend MPa Cast Annealed 880°C. Annealing of casting Abstract: In the case of steel castings full annealing is the only way for completely effacing the coarse grains and Widmanstätten structure. The effects of this segregation have to be effaced as much as possible by annealing and this necessitates temperatures higher than those used for worked steels. This is shown in Fig. Widmanstätten and feathery structures. Widmanstätten and feathery structures. 2 shows the macroform of the primary crystals. 1 which consists of a portion of the boundary-ferrite.The Widmanstätten structure can be modified into a "feathery" arrangement of the ferrite by the influence of silicon.scrap for remelting. furnace cooled 160 309 153 247 448 479 6 45° 24 165° Izod J 12 32 The Widmanstätten structure can be modified into a "feathery" arrangement of the ferrite by the influence of silicon. This is shown in Fig. Fig. 1 which consists of a portion of the boundary-ferrite. with its associated brittleness. Fig. In the case of steel castings full annealing is the only way for completely effacing the coarse grains and Widmanstätten structure.

3. revea-ling large prirmary austenite crystals Pearlite-dark ( x 80) due to presence of impurities (x 4) An imperfect anneal is illustrated by Fig. Ferrite-white. followed by slow cooling. in which the original cast structure is still outlined by the deposition of the ferrite in the old positions. A typical structure. The second heating refines the coarse grains and leaves the steel in a softened condition. which is shown in Fig. Double annealing consists of heating the steel to a temperature considerably over the A3 point. cooling rapidly to a temperature below the lower critical range and then immediately reheating to a point just over the upper critical point (Ac3). Micro-structure of same steel showing part of ferrite network. coalesces the sulphide films in the ferrite which embrittle the steel and produces homogenity by rapid diffusion. but tends to harden the metal. They can be prevented by double annealing. Macro-structure of cast steel and feathery structure. The quick cooling prevents the coarse deposition of the ferrite in the large grains. 4. The high temperature treatment effaces the strains. especially around the inclusions. . 3.Figure 1. should be compared with Fig. Widmanstätten Figure 2. This method is particularly useful for castings.

spheroidising anneal). During the subsequent hardening operations. they are heated just below the lower change point (650-700°C). such as safety razor blades and needles. causing. Annealing and Hardening Temperatures for Tool Steels The annealing or hardening temperatures of steels containing more than 0. in order to allow machining operation to be carried out. 5 shows the appearance of a 1. in which the cementite exists as . This property is being used in hardening thin sections. the cementite to balls-up into rounded masses (i. with consequent high resistance to deformation.3% carbon steel cast. Although the softest condition is obtained when the large globules of cementite are embedded in the ferrite. A short cycle anneal consists of heating just above Ac1. Groups of large globules cause failure of sharp-edged cutting tools. Same steel imperfectly annealed ferrite formed in masses outlining original cast structure (x80) Figure 4.9% carbon is just above the lower critical point (730-790°C) instead of above the upper range. the time required to dissolve fine spheroidised cementite is less than for the lamellar type. but too high a temperature causes pearlite to be reformed. When the cementite is in this condition high carbon steels can be cold drawn. in order to reduce decarburisation. Fig. and the above treatment is therefore carried out on a "hardened" material. a smooth machined surface is difficult to obtain due to tearing. however.e. obtained by suitable cooling from above A3 or after cold working.Figure 3. It should be remembered. Same steel properly annealed: ferrite and perlite uniform and fine (x80) Softening Tool and Air-hardening Steels To soften high carbon and air-hardening steels. that coarse laminated cementite spheroidises extremely slowly. cooling below Ar1 and then raising temperature just below Ac1 for 8 hours.

As cast: cementite network and plates in pearlite (x 100) Figure 6. such as for files. Cementite globules in properly hot-worked steel (x 200) Figure 8. This type of structure must be replaced by rounded particles of cementite in a fine pearlite before hardening. Figure 5. Heated to 1050°C and quenched in water. carried out through the critical range in order to disperse the free cementite. otherwise cracks will propagate through the continuous masses of brittle cementite. Large grains (x 100) Figure 7. Even a fine cementite network structure would cause trouble when drastic quenching is used. 8 shows the structure of a steel hardened from 760°C. Cementite globules in martensite. On the other hand. 7 shows the structure formed. Forging is. consisting of . Fig. This tends to develop coarse austenite crystals which cause the steel to become brittle and cracks to form on quenching. therefore. 6. to ball-up the free cementite and to remove strains.brittle networks and plates. which is the structure of steel quenched from 1050°C. This grain growth is shown on Fig. particles of cementite restrain grain growth. This is followed by annealing at about 760°C (just above Ac1). Fig.87% and an excessively high temperature is required to dissolve all the free cementite. in hardened steel (x 200) The upper critical line rises steeply with increasing carbon content above 0.

The rapid rates of cooling necessary to harden a steel cause the austenite to persist to a lower temperature and to transform into a variety of microconstituents discussed below. See Figs. 9 and 11. Austenite is sometimes present with martensite. It cannot be completely retained in carbon steels by even drastic quenching. but the hardness increases with the carbon content of the steel up to 0. Products of Quenching: Cnstituents of Hardened Steel The equilibrium diagram indicate the changes which occur under the slow cooling conditions of annealing. This austenite consists of polyhedral grains. which becomes more pronounced when the steel is quenched from high temperatures.4) quenched from between A1 and A3. 0. Martensite is the hardest constituent obtained in a given steel. 9 and 10). showing twins (Figs. Undissolved ferrite . but suitable additions of alloying elements allow the retention of this constituent. The micro-structure exhibits a fine needle-like structure.7%.particles of cementite dispersed in a matrix of martensite. Steel (C. in drastically quenched steels (Fig. for example 18/8 austenitic stainless steel. Figure 9. 9). It is non-magnetic and soft. Forms of carbide in micro-constituents in steel Figure 10. Martensite needles (dark) in austenite (x1200) Figure 11.

has a rapidly etched needle-like structure.5) (x500) Figure 15. The fc. Special microscopic technique has shown that nodular troostite is a mixture of radial lamellae of ferrite and cementite. the needles increasing in size Troostite (nodular) rapidly etches black and is practically unresolvable under the ordinary microscope. Bainite. but for the present purpose it might be considered to be highly stressed a-iron which is supersaturated with carbon. which occurs in alloy steels. Sorbite in quenched and tempered (600°C) steel (C. As the temperature of its formation becomes higher the acicular nature becomes less accentuated. 0. martensite and ferrite core (x30) The nature of martensite has not been definitely agreed upon. A slight further compression to give a ratio of 1 gives rise to a-iron.c. Therefore it differs from pearlite only . somewhat resembling tempered martensite. Cracked martensitic case (white). 0. The tetragonal lattice of martensite is formed from this by compressing its height and increasing its cross-section.5) quenched in water from 900°C(x400) Figure 13. lattice of g-iron is equivalent to a body centred tetragonal lattice with ratio 1.arou-nd inclusion in martensite (x 100) Figure 12. Martensite and quench crack. Steel (C.414. Nodular troostite in martensite (x400) Figure 14. Case-hardened screw.

Figs. nodules outline the boundaries of the original austenite grains. Sorbite is used to denote the granular structures. . The terms troostite and sorbite are frequently used to indicate constituents formed during quenching and also during tempering. while in the latter (tempering) it has a granular degree of fineness and carbon content which is the same as that in the austenite from which it is formed. the term troostite has been adopted in this book for constituents possessing a laminated structure. 9 and 13 show a typical martensite-troostite structure. In the former case (quenching) the cementite always occurs in a laminated form. Troostite is softer than martensite and small amounts in the steel lessen the risks of cracking and distortion. Hence. Some confusion arises as to the nomenclature of micro-constituents found in hardened and tempered steels.

thus separating the two variables: time and temperature. After holding for selected periods of time.g. The structures formed during the continuous cooling of steel from above Ac3 can be understood best by studying the constant-temperature (isothermal) transformation of austenite. thus separating the two variables: time and temperature. Another method consists in measuring length changes caused by the decomposition of austenite at the constant temperature by means of a dilatometer. After holding for selected periods of time. then quenching into a suitable bath (e. liquid tin) at some constant sub-critical temperature. This converts any untransformed austenite into martensite the volume of which can be estimated microscopically. the specimens are withdrawn from the bath and rapidly quenched in cold water. the specimens are withdrawn from the bath and rapidly quenched in cold water. the velocity of austenite transformation is found to depend on temperature. liquid tin) at some constant sub-critical temperature. Another method consists in measuring length changes caused by the decomposition of austenite at the constant temperature by means of a dilatometer. 1. This converts any untransformed austenite into martensite the volume of which can be estimated microscopically. . now called TTT-curve (time-temperature-transformation). shown in Fig. One method consists of heating small specimens above Ac3 to form austenite.One method consists of heating small specimens above Ac3 to form austenite. then quenching into a suitable bath (e. The time for the beginning and completion of the transformation of the austenite is plotted against the temperature to give the Bain "S-curve".g.Constant temperature transformation TTT curves Abstract: The structures formed during the continuous cooling of steel from above Ac3 can be understood best by studying the constant-temperature (isothermal) transformation of austenite. When carbon steel is quenched in the baths at constant temperatures.

Fig. Pearlitic The upper dotted curve in Fig. Austenite is completely stable above Ae3 and partially unstable between Ae3 and Ae1. 2a and b. The form of each of the curves and their positions with respect to the time axis depend on the composition and grain size of the austenite which is transforming. 1 the process resembles the solidification of crystals from a liquid by the formation and growth of nuclei of carbide followed by ferrite by side nucleation with side and edge growth. Two regions of rapid transformation occur about 550° and 250°C. 50% and 100% transformation of austenite at a constant temperature A= Austenite F= Ferrite P = Pearlite B = Bainite The logarithmic scale of time is used to condense results into a small space. This enables the metallurgist to interpret the response of steel to any specified heat-treatment. The decomposition of austenite occurs according to three separate but sometimes overlapping mechanisms and results in three different reaction products: pearlitic. 1 represents the beginning of the formation of ferrite. Ae1 and Ae3 lines represent the equilibrium transformation temperatures. At 700°C the formation of nuclei is slow (i. The TTT-curve is most useful in presenting an overall picture of the transformation behaviour of austenite. martensitic. but growth is slower and this produces nodular .e. As the transformation temperature is lowered to 500°C the incubation period decreases and the pearlite becomes increasingly fine. The curve just below it indicates the beginnings of the breakdown of the austenite remnant into a ferrite-carbide aggregate. bainitic. then growth proceeds rapidly to form large pearlite colonies covering several austenite grains in some cases.Figure 1. incubation period). Ideal TTT-curve for 0. In the hightemperature pearlitic range in Fig. Below Ae1 austenite is completely unstable and transforms in time. Large numbers of nuclei form in the austenite boundaries.65% carbon steel depicting time interval required for beginning. to plan practical heattreatment operations and to control limited hardening or softening and the time of soaking.

(a) Effect of different speeds of nucleation and growth on formation of pearlite colonies. forms first and is then followed by the precipitation of carbide within the ferrite needle. Cementite then precipitates from the carbon-enriched layer of austenite. Figure 2. 2c. The relative amounts of free ferrite to be expected after a given heat-treatment is indicated by the size of the "austenite and ferrite" field and by the temperature interval between Ae1 and Ae3. The carbides tend to lie parallel to the long axis of the bainite needle to form the typical open feathery structure of upper bainite. Fig. (b). (d) diagrammatic representation of formation of pearlite. upper bainite and lower bainite . 2a. In the case of medium carbon steels the excess ferrite decreases in volume and begins to show an acicular or Widmanstätten type of distribution.4C and the ferrite contains a little dissolved carbon. (c). transversely at an angle of 55°. A proportion of the carbide is Fe2. This lower bainite structure is somewhat similar to lightly tempered martensite (Fig. allowing further growth of the ferrite as shown in Fig. supersaturated with carbon. Below 350°C coherent ferrite. 2d).troostite. Bainitic Between about 500° and 350°C initial nuclei are ferrite which is coherent with the austenite matrix.

2 490 0. with little or no diffusion of the carbon into particles of cementite. diffusion. . This suggests that the mechanism of formation of this structure is not nucleation and growth but a shearing process. e. the austenite changes incompletely into a distorted body-centred structure. C% Ms °C 0. therefore. In the third stage. Mf is about 215°C below the Ms. but considerable internal stress due to the shear and to the position of the carbon atoms. This resembles the process of mechanical twinning and involves very little atomic movement.17(% Cr) . while in high carbon steels the plates are heavily twinned. 3(a) and (b).4 420 0. Further shear can only occur when the temperature is lowered and more energy gained. Two forms of martensite have been identified depending on carbon content. As the temperature decreases the elastic energy increases and eventually causes a shear in a part of the matrix. The temperature at which martensite begins to form (Ms) is progressively lowered as the carbon content of the steel increases. becomes too small for the formation of nuclei. The rate and extent of stabilisation (depression) depend on the temperature and time of holding. This fact is used in sub-zero quenching. amount of prior transformation and alloy content. the temperature drops rapidly through the interval in which "nucleation" could take place. Fig. Hence a proportion of austenite is usually retained in quenched steel which can be reduced in amount by a decrease in temperature.21 (% Mo). Plastic and elastic stresses promote the formation of martensite.2 150 The temperature is also affected by the alloy content.8 250 1. When cooling is resumed after such a stabilisation arrest martensite only begins to form again after cooling to a lower temperature.474 (% C) . to form martensite the plates of which are formed at a high speed (less than 0.17 (% Ni) . In low carbon steels laths containing many dislocations are found. provided all carbides have been dissolved in the austenite: Ms in °C = 561 . is practically independent of time and depends principally on the temperatures at which the steel is held.Martensitic In quenching down to about 250°C. therefore. but the following empirical formula (Steven and Haynes) can be used for calculating Ms from the chemical analyses. but it is retarded when cooling is interrupted. which stabilises the rest.02 520 0.e.g.33 (% Mn) . to a temperature so low that the molecular mobility.002 sec). i. The amount of martensite formed.

b) Twinned martensite in Fe30%Ni (x110000) Two groups of phase transformation are now given the name civilian.g. (a) Lathe martensite formed in 0. e. Martensite transformations also occur in non-ferrous alloys often differing greatly from the rather special case in steel.g.08°C steel quenched in brine from 100°C (x20000). pearlite) and military because of its orderly disciplined manner. martensite. . in which atoms move in a random manner (e.Figure 3.