Spheroidization cycles for medium carbon steels
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An investigation has been made of spheroidization of medium carbon steels used in the bolt industry. Two process cycles were considered. One was the intercritical cycle, widely used in industry, in which the steel was heated above the lower critical, A1, temperature for approximately 2 hours; then cooled below it; and held for various periods to allow the austenite to transform and carbides to spheroidize. The other process was a subcritical cycle, which involved heating to below the A1 for various times. Wire samples of two steels were studied: AISI 1541, which is high in manganese and considered difficult to spheroidize, and AISI 4037, which is considered easier to spheroidize and is used extensively in industrial applications.
Both cycles produced similar drops in hardness. However, 1 hour of the subcritical cycle yielded greater ductility than 32 hours of the intercritical process, as measured by tensile tests. Results of a new flare test designed to evaluate formability also indicated much faster spheroidization in the subcritical cycle.
The level of spheroidization was defined in this study to be the percentage of carbide particles with aspect ratios less than 3. In 30 minutes, the subcritical cycle produced the same percentage of particles with an aspect ratio of less than 3 as produced by the intercritical cycle in 32 hours. The fast spheroidization in the subcritical process is attributed to the fine pearlite generated by the current practice of rapid cooling off the hot mill. This advantage is lost in the intercritical process as the original pearlite is dissolved above the A1 temperature.
KeywordsAustenite Material Transaction Pearlite Carbide Particle Medium Carbon Steel
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