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Acta Materialia 56 (2008) 1482–1490

Finite element simulation of quench distortion in a low-alloy steel incorporating transformation kinetics
Seok-Jae Lee a, Young-Kook Lee b,*

Research Institute of Iron and Steel Technology, Yonsei University, Seoul 120-749, Republic of Korea b Department of Metallurgical Engineering, Yonsei University, Seoul 120-749, Republic of Korea

Received 17 October 2007; received in revised form 22 November 2007; accepted 27 November 2007 Available online 22 January 2008

Abstract The uncontrolled distortion of steel parts has been a long-standing and serious problem for heat treatment processes, especially quenching. To get a better understanding of distortion, the relationship between transformation kinetics and associated distortion has been investigated using a low-alloy chromium steel. Because martensite is a major phase transformed during the quenching of steel parts and is influential in the distortion, a new martensite start (Ms) temperature and a martensite kinetics equation are proposed. Oil quenching experiments with an asymmetrically cut cylinder were conducted to confirm the effect of phase transformations on distortion. ABAQUS and its user-defined subroutines UMAT and UMATHT were used for finite element method (FEM) analysis. The predictions of the FEM simulation compare well with the measured data. The simulation results allow for a clear understanding of the relationship between the transformation kinetics and distortion. Ó 2007 Acta Materialia Inc. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Finite element method; Martensitic transformation; Transformation kinetics; Distortion; Low-alloy steel

1. Introduction Heat-treating processes have traditionally been used to greatly enhance the mechanical properties of steel parts such as bearings, gears, shafts, etc. Unfortunately, heat treatments such as carburizing, quenching and tempering often cause excessive and uncontrolled distortion. This type of distortion is still a major issue in the production of quality parts. Many research groups have examined the causes of distortion and found that the phase transformations as well as thermal stresses that occur during the heat treatment play an important role. Denis et al. [1,2] have investigated the effects of stress on the phase transformation kinetics and transformation plasticity. Inoue et al. have studied the relation between phase transformations and residual stresses [3], as well as the


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influence of transformation plasticity on the distortion of a carburized ring specimen [4]. Arimoto et al. [5] have explained the origin of distortion and the stress distribution in quenched cylinders by accounting for the phase transformation. Ju et al. [6] have studied the martensitic transformation plastic behavior during quenching. Because martensite is the major phase produced during the quenching of the steel parts, a reliable prediction of the martensitic transformation kinetics is indispensable for the computational simulators of the distortion such as HEARTS [7], SYSWELD [8], DEFORM-HT [9], DANTE [10] and COSMAP [11]. Koistinen and Marburger’s equation [12], dating from 1959, is still widely used for the prediction of martensite kinetics. Their equation was obtained by fitting the martensite volume fraction, measured by X-ray diffraction, as a function of temperature below the martensite start temperature (Ms) in various iron–carbon steels. Although the equation was originally developed using iron–carbon steels, many researchers have cited it without any modification

1359-6454/$34.00 Ó 2007 Acta Materialia Inc. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. doi:10.1016/j.actamat.2007.11.039

Transformation kinetics model 2. R is the gas constant (8. which is widely used for diverse automobile parts. the purpose of the present study was to investigate the relationship between transformation kinetics. N . The austenite volume fraction is obtained by applying a lever rule to the change in dilatometric curves assuming an isotropic transformation and insignificant cementite effect. The differential form of Eq. This dimensional change. where Ae1 is an equilibrium eutectoid temperature.1. The volume fractions of the product phases were obtained using a routine [16] that converts the transformation strain measured from a dilatational curve to the volume fraction of each phase. A common differential formula to characterize the diffusive transformation was used in this study. which is a transformation strain. It is based on the work of Zener [14] and Hillert [15].S. The values for the parameters in Eq. (1) is convenient. The specimens were austenitized at 900 °C with heating rates ranging from 1 to 50 °C sÀ1.%) C 0. which is the gap between the extrapolated linear thermal expansion lines of parent phase and fully transformed phase at that temperature. Y. S <0. DT Þ Á gðV Þ dt ð1Þ where V is the volume fraction of the product phase at a process time t. [13] first introduced this equation.89 Si 0. nickel and molybdenum. the optimized kinetic equation for the diffusive transformation on heating of AISI 5120 steel is given by   dV A 242742 4:45 0:14 ÁVA ¼ 8932 Á ðT À Ae1 Þ Á exp À RT dt Á ð1 À V A Þ3:07 ð2Þ Table 1 Chemical compositions of AISI 5120 steel (wt. Thus.25 P. N is the ASTM grain size number. the equation generates a C-curve shape for the martensite volume fraction plotted against the cooling temperature below Ms. The cooled specimens were mechanically polished and etched using 2% Nital. for most low-alloys steels the martensitic transformation kinetic curve exhibits a sigmoid shape.24 Cr 1.21 Mn 0. can induce stresses within the specimen that could affect subsequent transformations during the heating and cooling processes. Lee / Acta Materialia 56 (2008) 1482–1490 1483 for low-alloy steels containing alloying elements such as chromium. using thermal and mechanical properties obtained from thermodynamic calculations and the literature. Table 1 lists the chemical composition of AISI 5120 steel. the kinetic model of the transformation during heating has to be considered in the heat treatment simulation for the accurate prediction of the final distortion. and held for 10 min in a vacuum.-J. the volume fraction of transformed phase at a given temperature is calculated by the ratio of the measured transformation strain to the total transformation strain. Q. According to the lever rule. Quenching experiments using cut cylinders were conducted. Thus. The initial microstructure of the dilatometric specimen was a mixture of ferrite and pearlite produced by furnace cooling. (1). In contrast. (2) were based on the austenite volume fraction obtained from an optimization program.314 J molÀ1 KÀ1) and VA is the volume fraction of austenite. The experimentally measured temperature and distortion data were used to explain the relationship between the transformation kinetics and distortion within the FEM simulations. The equation considers austenite grain size (AGS). Therefore. dV ¼ f ðchem. In addition. The Ms point and the equation were validated with experimental data from the literature. focussing on martensitic transformation and distortion using an AISI 5120 steel. In the present work the Ms point and a martensite kinetics equation for steel are proposed. This conversion routine calculates more reasonable volume fractions of product phases compared to the lever law. few studies that clearly explain the interaction between transformation kinetics and distortion have been conducted. pearlite and bainite. Based on Eq. Kirkaldy et al.9 kPa) was too small to produce plastic transformation phenomena. Lee.-K. The specimens were then cooled to room temperature at cooling rates from 1 to 50 °C sÀ1 by blowing nitrogen gas. The dimensional change of the dilatometric specimen due to the transformation during heat-up results from the crystal structural change from body-centered cubic (bcc) ferrite and pearlite to face-centered cubic (fcc) austenite. Diffusive transformation Dilatometric specimens of AISI 5120 steel were machined into small plates of 10 Â 3 Â 1 mm3 from a hot-rolled bar. while martensite forms via a diffusionless transformation. 2. since it allows the combination of the kinetics model for phase transformations with a constitutive materials model so that the stress–strain matrix can be calculated within the finite element analysis. A dilatometer was used to measure contractions and expansions during the heating and cooling. The phases formed by diffusive transformation during cooling are classified as ferrite. The sensor force needed to hold a dilatometric specimen (7. chem means the effects of alloying elements on the diffusive mobility.01 Fe Bal. Q is the activation energy for the transformation and DT is the undercooling below the equilibrium transformation temperature. g(V) is a function of V relating to the overall kinetics rate. and . it is impossible to apply a lever rule to obtain the product phase fractions in a cooling process. A finite element method (FEM) analysis was performed. Although many researchers [1–6] have attempted to clarify the exact relationship between phase transformations and internal stress. chemistry and the shape of the kinetic curve.

The microstructure of the sample was confirmed by optical microscopy. Lee / Acta Materialia 56 (2008) 1482–1490 is used in developing the kinetic models of both the diffusive and diffusionless transformations during cooling. where it is found that the Ms temperature increases with decreasing ASTM grain size number. Y. The kinetic equations of diffusive transformations were obtained by optimization as follows: Ferrite transformation   dV F 59093 3:48 ¼ 91073 Á ðAe3 À T Þ Á exp À Á V 0:10 F RT dt Á ð1 À V F Þ 2:97 : ð3Þ   dV P 40384 2:12 ¼ 24647 Á ðAe1 À T Þ Á exp À Á V 0:42 P RT dt Á ð1 À V P Þ 1:46 Pearlite transformation : ð4Þ   dV B 39538 3:10 ¼ 91111 Á ðBs À T Þ Á exp À Á V 0:53 B RT dt Á ð1 À V B Þ 3:68 Bainite transformation . In order to obtain the experimental data regarding Ms temperature and martensitic kinetics. and Liu et al.-J. respectively. ð5Þ where Ae3 . dilatometric tests of 29 low-alloy steels were conducted.2. which strongly affects the nucleation and growth of martensite. pearlite and bainite. The results indicate that the AGS has a significant effect on martensite formation.% C steel by Izumiyama et al.1484 S.25]. The Ms temperature rose with increasing austenite grain size especially in Fe–Ni–C alloys. Some experimental results regarding the relationship between the AGS and the martensitic transformation have been reported in Fe–Ni and Fe–Ni–C alloys [24. Lee. the quenched dilatometric specimens were etched in a saturated picric acid solution after mechanical polishing with a 1 lm diamond suspension. 1. Martensitic transformation A number of empirical formulae have been proposed to predict the Ms temperature as a function of the chemical composition of steels [17–20]. the specimens were quenched to room temperature by blowing helium gas into the dilatometer chamber. the authors propose a new predictive equation of Ms temperature as functions of both chemical composition and the AGS of low-alloy steels as follows: Fig. The specimens were heated to austenitizing temperatures ranging between 850 and 1050 °C and held for a maximum of 90 min. In order to obtain only the martensite phase from austenite. Ae1 and Bs are the transformation start temperatures of ferrite. Vi is the volume fraction of product phase i. [22] is around 470 °C.-K. [21] have summarized the results. 2. For the measurement of the AGS. Based on these data. This difference in the Ms temperature of the same steel possibly comes from a difference in austenite grain size (AGS). The effect of the alloying element on the Ms temperature of iron-based binary alloys has been investigated in many studies. The relationship between the Ms temperature determined from dilatational curves and the ASTM grain size numbers of low-alloy steels is investigated in this study. Fig. The measured Ms temperature of Fe–1 at. while that of the same steel obtained by Ackert and Parr [23] is about 150 °C. The average cooling rate between the austenitizing temperature and the Ms temperature was greater than 170 °C sÀ1. 1 shows a dilatometric curve measured at the cooling rate of 50 °C sÀ1 and the volume fractions of product phases calculated by the conversion routine. The cooling rate was slowed below the Ms temperature due to the latent heat generated during the martensitic transformation. Dilatometric curve of AISI 5120 steel measured at a cooling rate of 50 °C sÀ1 and its predicted volume fractions of product phases by the conversion routine. .

Comparison between the Koistinen–Marburger equation and Eq. respectively. M s ð CÞ ¼ 402 À 797C þ 14:4Mn þ 15:3Si À 31:1Ni þ 345:6Cr þ 434:6Mo þ ð59:6C þ 3:8Ni À 41Cr À 53:8MoÞ Á G ð6Þ  where each element is in weight per cent and G is the ASTM grain size number. 200 and 25 °C.%. the two equations reveal insignificant differences. C is carbon content in weight per cent and T is the temperature below the Ms temperature in degrees Celsius. (7). for the M90 temperature. were obtained from the published isothermal transformation diagrams [28] of 37 low-alloy steels for more reliable comparison between the K–M equation and Eq. was made based on the converted martensite fractions from the dilatational curves. The Ms temperature is directly affected by the AGS. (7) shows a very good agreement with the measured M90 temperatures. (7). undercooling below Ms temperature and chemical composition. 3. However. these previous kinetics equations. However. including the K–M equation. where the martensite fractions are 50 and 90 vol. Lee / Acta Materialia 56 (2008) 1482–1490 1485 Fig. The heat capacities of austenite.27] have been previously proposed to predict martensite kinetics in steels. which includes the effect of AGS. ferrite and ferrite+cementite as a function of temperature for AISI 5120 steel are austenite C P ¼ 93:82 þ 25:162T 0:5 À 0:378T þ 0:0000717T 2 . (7) from this study with the measured (a) M50 and (b) M90 temperatures where the martensite fractions are 50 and 90 vol. For the M50 temperature. assuming the steel to be in equilibrium. The K–M equation [12] and some similar equations [26.-K.%. Material properties The thermal conductivity calculated by Miettinem’s formulae [29] is used in this study. The comparison between two kinetic equations with the measured M50 and M90 temperatures is shown in Fig. Eq. The values (J molÀ1 KÀ1) for heat capacity (CP) were calculated using Thermo-Calc [30].S. Y. He proposed equations to predict the thermal conductivity of alloyed steels at the liquidus temperature. The chemical composition and the AGS of the selected steels from the published isothermal transformation diagrams are quite different from the experimental conditions used to formulate Eq. do not contain an AGS term or factor. respectively. The new kinetics equation for the martensitic transformation of low-alloy steels. He remarked that the thermal conductivity is usually not known for each individual solid phase but rather for the solid as a whole. while the values predicted by the K–M equation differ significantly.-J. The M50 and M90 temperatures. at the austenite decomposition temperature. 2. ð9Þ ð8Þ . 2. indicating that the kinetics of martensite transformation is also influenced by the AGS. Lee. ferrite C P ¼ À8938:11 þ 444417:483=T þ 786:886T 0:5 À 20:662T þ 0:00529T 2 . and at 400. The new kinetics equation is given as dV M ¼ K Á V a Á ð1 À V M Þb M dT :191 G:240 Á ðM s À T Þ K¼ 9:017 þ 62:88 Á C þ 9:27 Á Ni À 1:08 Á Cr þ :76 Á Mo a ¼ :420 À :246 Á C þ :359 Á C 2 b ¼ :320 þ :576 Á C þ :933 Á C2 ð7Þ where VM is the volume fraction of martensite.

the hardness is also an important means to assess the mechanical properties after heat treatment. i.e. a cylinder of AISI 304 stainless steel (10 mm diameter  100 mm long) was austenitized at 860 °C for 10 min and quenched in the same oil. The latent heat for ferrite formation is calculated at the temperature at which the austenite decomposition is thermodynamically complete. latent heat. As is the austenite start temperature from martensite and Andrews’ formula [19] is used to calculate the As temperature of AISI 5120 steel. À 5:742T þ 0:00227T 2 ð10Þ where T is temperature in Kelvin. the latent heat of the diffusive transformations is calculated based on the thermodynamics of the transformation.-K. 3 shows the shape and dimensions of an asymmetrically cut cylinder of AISI 5120 steel. The published thermal properties of AISI 304 stainless steel [38] and the measured surface temperatures were used to determine the convection coefficient. A simple rule of mixtures is applied to obtain the heat capacity for multiphase conditions. while the latent heat of the pearlite formation is calculated by the rule of mixtures between the latent heats of the cementite and ferrite formation. The calculated latent heats of ferrite. The enthalpy change due to a phase transformation. the empirical formula proposed by Maynier et al. pearlite and bainite are: DHF = 5. To obtain a heat transfer (convection) coefficient during oil quenching. DHP = 5. respectively. 4. 304 stainless steel was selected because no latent heat is generated by phase transformation during the heat treatment. The convection coefficient was calculated as a function of temperature by the inverse algorithm shown in Fig. respectively. The published stress–strain curves of AISI 5120 steel with different microstructures are used for the stress analysis [35]. .95  108. Lee. the latent heat of the bainite formation contains an additional shear energy value of 600 J molÀ1.26  108 and DHB = 5. The values of the phase transformation plasticity of AISI 5120 steel are taken from recently measured data [37]. (7) and (11). The thermal and transformation expansions are calculated by the equations used in the previous work [16]. Experiments and FEM simulation of an asymmetrically cut cylinder Fig. T0 is a thermodynamic equilibrium temperature at which the chemical free energies of austenite and martensite are equal and is usually expressed as T0 = 1/2(Ms + As) [34]. K-type thermocouples and a multichannel recorder were used to measure surface temperatures during the heat treatment. Shape and dimension of the cut cylinder specimen of AISI 5120 steel.-J. In addition. The value for the latent heat for martensite formation is DHM = 3. DGC is 2100 J molÀ1 for the formation of plate martensite and (1200 + 3128yCr + 29260yMn + 6470yNi + 21000yC) J molÀ1 for lath martensite. Recently. where yi is the site fraction of element i. which was reported by Nanba et al. In this study. Only a few studies have reported the latent heat of martensite formation. Cho et al.1486 S. [32] suggested the following equation to calculate the Gibbs free energy change as the latent heat of martensite transformation:   T À Ms C DG ¼ DG 1 À ð11Þ T 0 À Ms where DGC is the Gibbs free energy change between austenite and martensite at the Ms temperature. The FEM simulation was performed using ABAQUS [39] and its user-defined subroutines UMAT and UMATHT. Lee / Acta Materialia 56 (2008) 1482–1490 ferrite + cementite C P ¼ À1091:734 þ 3768:92=T þ 175:576T 0:5 4. Two-step conditions were specified for the simulation: the heating process of the asymmetrically cut cylinder from room temperature to 860 °C was simulated by convectional heat transfer (300 W mÀ2 KÀ1) for 15 min followed by quenching simulation for 5 min using the convection coefficient obtained from the AISI 304 stainless cylinder. The asymmetrically cut cylinder was austenitized at 860 °C for 10 min and quenched in oil at 17 °C. The hexahedral element (C3D8T) was used and the total numbers of nodes and elements were 2205 and 1632. 3. The stress–strain curves were generated as a function of temperature using Instron and Gleeble machines.12  108 (J mÀ3). Y.14  108 (J mÀ3). causes heat absorption or heat generation of the system. [31]. [36] was used to predict the hardness after cooling. According to Kunze and Beyer [33]. The latent heat of the martensite formation of AISI 5120 steel is calculated using Eqs. Fig. In this study. The asymmetric design is helpful for the investigation of the relationship between transformation kinetics and distortion during quenching. Although bainite is composed of ferrite and cementite-like pearlite.

Calculated convection coefficient of oil quenching using AISI 304 stainless steel. Lee / Acta Materialia 56 (2008) 1482–1490 1487 Fig. The predicted relative amount of martensite is 77% on the edge and 71% in the center. 6 shows the predicted microstructural changes on the edge and in the center of the asymmetrically cut cylinder during oil quenching. Unfortunately. the measured temperature changes at four different points are similar.-K. is too small to cause a significant temperature change because of both the low carbon content of the steel and the relatively small volume of the cylindrical specimen. Fig. 4. Predicted and measured distortions of the asymmetrically cut cylinder. . 7 shows the predicted distortion to have very good agreement with the measured distortion. The maxi- Fig. however. 5. Phase fractions predicted at two different positions of the sample and the predicted and measured hardness values at the central crosssection of the quenched cut cylinder. Within 2 or 3 s of the start of cooling. Y. The predicted cooling profiles show good agreement with the measured ones. which was bent in the opposite direction of the cutting plane (axis 1 direction) after quenching. This difference is due to the different cooling rates throughout the thickness of the sample producing different bainite fractions prior to the start of martensite formation. Fig. the bainitic transformation occurs and is followed by the martensite transformation. Distortion of the asymmetrically cut cylinder before and after oil quenching was quantitatively measured at nine different points along the longitudinal direction at the center of the outside surface of the cylinder using a coordinate measuring machine with a minimum resolution of 100 nm. 5. the latent heat. The predicted hardness based on the Maynier’s formula at the same position is within ±2. which occurs during oil quenching. 6. 7. Results and discussion Fig.2% of the measured hardness. During this quenching. 5 shows the comparison between the surface temperatures obtained by the simulation and the measured temperatures at different positions of the asymmetrically cut cylinder during oil quenching. Fig. Fig. The measured average hardness of the central cross-section of the quenched asymmetrically cut cylinder is about 42 HRC. Lee.-J.S. Comparison between the predicted and measured surface temperatures at each different position of the cut cylinder during oil quenching.

Fig. . Effect of phase transformations on the distortion of the cut cylinder during oil quenching: (a) distortion with transformations and (b) distortion without transformations. Y. 8. Lee. 9. The specimen was bent in the normal direction Fig. which could pose a problem in terms of dimensional stability during a commercial heat treatment process.-J.1488 S. Lee / Acta Materialia 56 (2008) 1482–1490 mum distortion is approximately 500 lm. Fig. Relationship between the distortion and microstructure changes in the asymmetrically cut cylinder specimen during oil quenching: (a) bainite and (b) martensite. 8 shows the relationship between distortion and microstructural change in the vertical section during oil quenching.-K.

(7) is greater than 500 lm. Fig. Additionally. When the bainite and martensite transformations started. 9b shows the quenching distortion without transformation strains. 10b. of the cutting plane (axis 1 direction) at the beginning of the oil quench and shortened in the longitudinal direction due to thermal contraction. With continued cooling. 11.-K. the distortion changed to the direction opposite to the cutting plane (opposite to axis 1 direction) due to the transformation. Two different kinetic equations were compared: the Koistinen– Marburger equation and Eq. and the temperature difference between these two temperatures is reduced by a few degrees. The same material properties and initial and boundary conditions were used for the distortion simulation. 9 shows the effect of the transformation strain on the distortion.-J. The predicted distortion calculated using the K–M equation does not reach 200 lm. 8).S. The distortion simulations were performed with the same initial and boundary conditions but different transformation strains. The accuracy of the martensite kinetic equation. (7). The compressed stress at the surface and the tensile stress at center are generated when the cooling rate at the center becomes greater than that at the surface. However. Lee. Variations in the axial stress (rz). Fig. The measured values at P1–P9 were referred to previously in Fig. the cooling rate at the surface is decreased while that at the center is increased. Fig. which was investigated by computer simulations. the relative amount of distortion of the quenched cut cylinder would be quite different. Y. when considering the transformation strains. Even if the predicted distortion was in the same direction (opposite to axis 1) after quenching. Fig. The subscripts (C. 10 provides a comparison of the variations in the axial stress component (rz). the stress variation is more complicated and the amounts of the maximum compressive and tensile stresses become greater as shown in Fig. Fig. Lee / Acta Materialia 56 (2008) 1482–1490 1489 Fig. the additional transformational strain and the strain due to thermal expansion affected the distortion of the asymmetrically cut cylinder. indicating the distortion due to the continuous contraction of austenite in the direction normal to the cutting plane (axis 1 direction). while the distortion predicted using Eq. as shown in Fig. The increased stress variation is related to the bainite and martensite transformations combined with thermal contraction of the asymmetrically shaped cylinder (Fig. radial stress (rr) and hoop stress (rh) during oil quenching of the cut cylinder: (a) without phase transformations and (b) with phase transformations. the tensile stress at surface and the compressive stress at the center of an austenitic specimen are generated at the beginning of oil quenching because the surface temperature drops faster than the inner temperature. Effect of martensite kinetics on the final distortion after oil quenching. 10a. 11 compares the effect of the martensite kinetics on quenching distortion using two different kinetic equations: the K–M equation and Eq. S and cut S) indicate the node positions of the cut cylinder at which the stresses were calculated. Finally. 10. radial stress component (rr) and hoop stress component (rh) during oil quenching of the cut cylinder with the phase transformation effect being considered. Without consideration of the transformation strains. . 7. (7) proposed in this study. the position-dependent transformations have an influence on the distortion direction. The original causes of the distortion are not only the asymmetric shape of the cut cylinder but also the additional transformation strains.

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