Microstructural transformations in austenitic-ferritic transition joints
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The relatively complex microstructures developed at the interface between ferritic steel and weld metal on austenitic-ferritic transition joints have been examined by metallographic observation and by hardness tests in the as-welded condition and in the as-welded-and-tempered condition. Both austenitic stainless steel and nickel-based filler metals were used in welds. On as-welded specimens a sharp change of hardness in low-alloy steel has been measured, with increasing distance from weld metal; the hardness values have been related to the observed metallographic constituents. On post-weld heat treated specimens, the behaviour is different according to the composition of filler material, either austenitic steel or nickel-based alloy. In the case of austenitic filler material, a dark-etching narrow diffusion region of carbon toward weld metal is formed, with an adjacent markedly decarburized zone, exhibiting the minimum microhardness values in a narrow band of about 60 micrometres. Since this sharp structural variation is recorded just in the zone where often failures occur, the final post-weld heat treatment appears to be proposed with due caution. In the case of nickel-based filler material, carbon diffusion is inhibited by the precipitation of alloy carbides at the weld interface. This determines a more homogeneous heat affected zone (HAZ) in the ferritic steel and a reduced decarburization near the fusion line after a post-weld heat treatment, confirming the reasons of the preference recognized to this filler material, especially when service temperature is elevated and submitted to frequent changes, or whenever a post-welded heat treatment is required.
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