Mechanical Behavior

Metallurgical Transactions A

, Volume 7, Issue 6, pp 831-838

First online:

Evaluation of toughness in AISI 4340 alloy steel austenitized at low and high temperatures

  • Robert O. RitchieAffiliated withDepartment of Materials Science and Engineering, and Molecular and Materials Research Division, Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, Uni- versity of California
  • , Benjamin FrancisAffiliated withHarvey Mudd College
  • , William L. ServerAffiliated withFracture Control Corporation

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It has been reported for as-quenched AISI 4340 steel that high temperature austenitizing treatments at 1200°C, instead of conventional heat-treatment at 870°C, result in a two-foldincrease in fracture toughness,K Ic, but adecrease in Charpy impact energy. This paper seeks to find an explanation for this discrepancy in Charpy and fracture toughness data in terms of the difference betweenK Ic and impact tests. It is shown that the observed behavior is independent of shear lip energy and strain rate effects, but can be rationalized in terms of the differing response of the structure produced by each austenitizing treatment to the influence of notch root radius on toughness. The microstructural factors which affect this behavior are discussed. Based on these and other observations, it is considered that the use of high temperature austenitizing be questioned as a practical heat-treatment procedure for ultrahigh strength, low alloy steels. Finally, it is suggested that evaluation of material toughness should not be based solely onK Ic or Charpy impact energy values alone; both sharp crack fracture toughness and rounded notch impact energy tests are required.