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Effect of alloying elements on steel properties [SubsTech]

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Effect of alloying elements on steel properties

Dr. Dmitri Kopeliovich
Alloying is changing chemical composition of steel by adding elements with purpose to improve its
properties as compared to the plane carbon steel.
The properties, which may be improved
Characteristics of alloying elements

The properties, which may be improved

Stabilizing austenite increasing the temperature range, in which austenite exists.
The elements, having the same crystal structure as that of austenite (cubic face centered FCC), raise the
A4 point (the temperature of formation of austenite from liquid phase) and decrease the A3 temperature.
These elements are nickel (Ni), manganese (Mn), cobalt (Co) and copper (Cu).
Examples of austenitic steels: austenitic stainless steels, Hadfield steel (1%C, 13%Mn, 1.2%Cr).
Stabilizing ferrite decreasing the temperature range, in which austenite exists.
The elements, having the same crystal structure as that of ferrite (cubic body centered BCC), lower the
A4 point and increase the A3 temperature.
These elements lower the solubility of carbon in austenite, causing increase of amount of carbides in the
The following elements have ferrite stabilizing effect: chromium (Cr), tungsten (W), Molybdenum (Mo),
vanadium (V), aluminum (Al) and silicon (Si).
Examples of ferritic steels:transformer sheets steel (3%Si), F-Cr alloys.
Carbide forming elements forming hard carbides in steels.
The elements like chromium (Cr), tungsten (W), molybdenum (Mo), vanadium (V), titanium (Ti), niobium
(Nb), tantalum (Ta), zirconium (Zr) form hard (often complex) carbides, increasing steel hardness and
Examples of steels containing relatively high concentration of carbides: hot work tool steels, high speed
Carbide forming elements also form nitrides reacting with Nitrogen in steels.

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Effect of alloying elements on steel properties [SubsTech]

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Graphitizing decreasing stability of carbides, promoting their breaking and formation of free
The following elements have graphitizing effect: silicon (Si), nickel (Ni), cobalt (Co), aluminum (Al).
Decrease of the eutectoid concentration.
The following elements lower eutectoid concentration of carbon: titanium (Ti), molybdenum (Mo),
tungsten (W), silicon (Si), chromium (Cr), nickel (Ni).
Increase of corrosion resistance.
Aluminum (Al), silicon (Si), and chromium (Cr) form thin an strong oxide film on the steel surface,
protecting it from chemical attacks.
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Characteristics of alloying elements

Manganese (Mn) improves hardenability, ductility and wear resistance. Mn eliminates formation of
harmful iron sulfides, increasing strength at high temperatures.
Nickel (Ni) increases strength, impact strength and toughness, impart corrosion resistance in
combination with other elements.
Chromium (Cr) improves hardenability, strength and wear resistance, sharply increases corrosion
resistance at high concentrations (> 12%).
Tungsten (W) increases hardness particularly at elevated temperatures due to stable carbides, refines
grain size.
Vanadium (V) increases strength, hardness, creep resistance and impact resistance due to formation of
hard vanadium carbides, limits grain size.
Molybdenum (Mo) increases hardenability and strength particularly at high temperatures and under
dynamic conditions.
Silicon (Si) improves strength, elasticity, acid resistance and promotes large grain sizes, which cause
increasing magnetic permeability.
Titanium (Ti) improves strength and corrosion resistance, limits austenite grain size.
Cobalt (Co) improves strength at high temperatures and magnetic permeability.
Zirconium (Zr) increases strength and limits grain sizes.
Boron (B) highly effective hardenability agent, improves deformability and machinability.
Copper (Cu) improves corrosion resistance.
Aluminum (Al) deoxidizer, limits austenite grains growth.
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Related internal links

Iron-carbon phase diagram
Classification of steels and cast irons
Carbon steels
Alloy steels
Tool and die steels
Stainless steels
Creep resistant steels
Cast irons

19-09-2016 10:18