Metallurgical and Materials Transactions A

, Volume 33, Issue 4, pp 1255–1261 | Cite as

Spheroidization cycles for medium carbon steels

  • James M. O’Brien
  • William F. Hosford


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.


Austenite Material Transaction Pearlite Carbide Particle Medium Carbon Steel 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    G. Krauss: Steels: Heat Treatment and Processing Principles, ASM INTERNATIONAL, Materials Park, OH, 1990.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Y.L. Tang and W. Kraft: Metall. Trans A, 1987, vol. 18A, pp. 1403–14.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    T.H. Courtney and J.C. Malzahn Kampe: Acta Metall., 1989, vol. 37, pp. 1747–58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    S. Chattopadhyay and O.D. Sellars: Metallography, 1977, vol. 10, pp. 89–105.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    M. Harrigan and O.D. Sherby: Mater. Sci., 1971, vol. 7, pp. 177–89.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    S. Chattopadhyay and O.D. Sellars: Acta Metall, 1982, vol. 30, pp. 157–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    E.A. Chojnowski and W.J. McTegart: Met. Sci., 1968, vol. 2, pp. 14–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    J. Kostler: Arch. Eisenhüttenwessen, 1975, vol. 46, pp. 229–33.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    J.L. Robbins, O.C. Shepard, and O.D. Sherby: J. Iron Steel Inst., 1964, vol. 202, pp. 804–07.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    H. Paqeton and A. Pineau: J. Iron Steel Inst., 1971, vol. 209, pp. 991–99.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    J.H. Whitely: J. Iron Steel Inst., 1922, vol. 105, pp. 339–57.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    T. Ochi and Y. Koyasu: 33rd MWSP Conf. Proc., ISS-AIME, Warrendale, PA, 1992, vol. 29, pp. 303–09.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    K. Naidu and I.M. Park: Wire J. Int., 1983, May, pp. 60–70.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    O.E. Kullen: Met. Progr., 1953, July, pp. 79–82.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    K. Honda and S. Saito: J. Iron Steel Inst., 1920, vol. 102, pp. 261–69.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    The Making, Shaping and Treating of Steel, 10th ed., United States Steel, Pittsburgh, PA, 1985, pp. 968–71.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    J.M. O’Brien and W.F. Hosford: J. Mater. Eng. Performance, 1977, vol. 6, pp. 69–72.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    J.M. O’Brien and W.F. Hosford, in Heat Treating, Proceedings of the 19th Conference, Nov. 1999, eds. S.J. Medea and G.D. Pfaffmann, ASM, Materials Park, OH, 2000, pp. 638–44.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    K.W. Andrews: J. Iron Steel Inst., 1965, vol. 203, pp. 721–27.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    L.E. Samuels: Optical Microscopy of Carbon Steels, ASM, Metals Park, OH, 1980, pp. 225–29.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    E. Ho and C.G. Weatherly: Met. Sci., 1977, vol. 11, pp. 141.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© ASM International & TMS-The Minerals, Metals and Materials Society 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • James M. O’Brien
    • 1
  • William F. Hosford
    • 2
  1. 1.O’Brien & AssociatesBlissfield
  2. 2.the Department of Materials Science and EngineeringUniversity of MichiganAnn Arbor

Personalised recommendations