, Volume 35, Issue 8, pp 2331-2341

Effect of microstructure on the stability of retained austenite in transformation-induced-plasticity steels

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Abstract

Two Fe-0.2C-1.55Mn-1.5Si (in wt pct) steels, with and without the addition of 0.039Nb (in wt pct), were studied using laboratory rolling-mill simulations of controlled thermomechanical processing. The microstructures of all samples were characterized by optical metallography, X-ray diffraction (XRD), and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). The microstructural behavior of phases under applied strain was studied using a heat-tinting technique. Despite the similarity in the microstructures of the two steels (equal amounts of polygonal ferrite, carbide-free bainite, and retained austenite), the mechanical properties were different. The mechanical properties of these transformation-induced-plasticity (TRIP) steels depended not only on the individual behavior of all these phases, but also on the interaction between the phases during deformation. The polygonal ferrite and bainite of the C-Mn-Si steel contributed to the elongation more than these phases in the C-Mn-Si-Nb-steel. The stability of retained austenite depends on its location within the microstructure, the morphology of the bainite, and its interaction with other phases during straining. Granular bainite was the bainite morphology that provided the optimum stability of the retained austenite.