Recent Observations on Quench-Aging and Strain-Aging of Iron and Steel

  • A. S. Keh
  • W. C. Leslie
Part of the Materials Science Research book series (MSR)


The results of recent studies of the precipitation of carbides and nitrides from solid solution in alpha iron are combined with earlier findings in an effort to present as complete an account as possible of these processes and their effects. The study of the effects of alloy additions on carbide nucleation, growth and structure was continued, using Fe-Si-C alloys. Silicon greatly retards the rate of growth of carbides and widens the temperature range in which the low-temperature carbide is stable. The inhibition of tempering of martensite by silicon is attributed to these effects. The structural changes during quench-aging of an Fe–0.02%N alloy and an 0.03%C rimmed steel are correlated with changes in hardness, tensile properties, and relaxation strength. During the period of rapid increase of hardness, the interparticle spacing remained constant or increased slightly. The hardening is attributed principally to particle thickening, which increases resistance to passage of dislocations. The interactions between dislocations and particles after various aging treatments substantiates this conclusion. Softening during overaging was related to an increase of interparticle spacing. The quench-aging of low-carbon steels can be complicated by a change in the carbide from the low-temperature phase to Fe3C. Preaging of the 0.02%N alloy at room temperature greatly enhanced its ability to harden during subsequent aging at 100°C, by increasing the number of nuclei for precipitation. In Fe-N, Fe-C, and Fe-Mn-C alloys, and in low-carbon steels, substantial strain-aging can occur without detectable precipitation on dislocations, when the alloys are not supersaturated with interstitial elements. If the alloys are supersaturated at the aging temperature, the later stages of strain-aging include precipitation (quench-aging). The rise in flow stress during strain-aging is attributed to the strong pinning of dislocations, which necessitates the generation of new dislocations at points of stress concentration. The strengthening of steel in the blue-brittle temperature range is associated with repeated generation of new dislocations as the old dislocations are pinned dynamically by interstitial solute atoms during straining.


Flow Stress Internal Friction Aging Time Recent Observation Aging Temperature 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1963

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. S. Keh
    • 1
  • W. C. Leslie
    • 1
  1. 1.Edgar C. Bain LaboratoryUnited States Steel CorporationMonroevilleUSA

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