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Fracture mechanisms and mechanics of an 18-4-1 high speed steel


Cast, wrought, and directly sintered smooth and precracked beam specimens of BT1 steels were studied in three- and four-point bending at room temperature. Following austenitization at 1250° C and tempering between 500 and 560° C, brittle fracture strengths varied between 1.1 and 2.8 GN m−2 and the fracture toughness of the materials was in the range 18 to 25 MN m−3/2. Combining these data, the critical Griffith-Irwin flaw sizes were calculated to be typically of the order of 100 μm. This is in reasonable agreement with the observed sizes of some failure-initiating sites, particularly pores in sintered material, but generally several times larger than the carbide and grain sizes. In wrought specimens, failure frequently originated from groups of carbides, apparently fracturing on contiguous planes. No evidence of sub-critical cracking of carbides was detected (as in BT42), in contrast to BM2, BT6 and sintered and hot isostatically pressed BT1. Only inter-powder particle parting occurred in this sintered material. Conventional fracture mechanics thus successfully interprets results on sintered specimens, but only on several of the wrought specimens. For the majority of the latter it appears necessary to invoke operation of propagation mechanisms involving “short”, ≈10 μm, cracks under monotonic loading or to associate the brittle fracture stress with that for crack nucleation: e.g. cleavage of a carbide cluster.

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Wronski, A.S., Rebbeck, M.M. & Amen, S.A. Fracture mechanisms and mechanics of an 18-4-1 high speed steel. J Mater Sci 23, 2213–2219 (1988).

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  • Carbide
  • Fracture Toughness
  • Fracture Stress
  • Brittle Fracture
  • Fracture Strength