, Volume 43, Issue 11, pp 4237-4246
Date: 30 May 2012

Gas–Solid Interactions During Nonisothermal Heat Treatment of a High-Strength CrMnCN Austenitic Steel Powder: Influence of Atmospheric Conditions and Heating Rate on the Densification Behavior

Abstract

This work deals with gas–solid interactions between a high-alloyed steel powder and the surrounding atmosphere during continuous heating. It is motivated by the recently developed corrosion-resistant CrMnCN austenitic cast steels. Here, powder metallurgical processing would be desirable to manufacture highly homogeneous parts and/or novel corrosion-resistant metal-matrix composites. However, the successful use of this new production route calls for a comprehensive investigation of interactions between the sintering atmosphere and the metallic powder to prevent undesirable changes to the chemical composition, e.g., degassing of nitrogen or evaporation of manganese. In this study, dilatometric measurements combined with residual gas analysis, high-temperature X-ray diffraction (XRD) measurements, and thermodynamic equilibrium calculations provided detailed information about the influence of different atmospheric conditions on the microstructure, constitution, and densification behavior of a gas-atomized CrMnCN steel powder during continuous heating. Intensive desorption of nitrogen led to the conclusion that a vacuum atmosphere is not suitable for powder metallurgical (PM) processing. Exposure to an N2-containing atmosphere resulted in the formation of nitrides and lattice expansion. Experimental findings have shown that the N content can be controlled by the nitrogen partial pressure. Furthermore, the reduction of surface oxides because of a carbothermal reaction at elevated temperatures and the resulting enhancement of the powder’s densification behavior are discussed in this work.

Manuscript submitted August 30, 2011.