Steels with Improved Properties

Muller, Dr. T. L. F.
Organization: The Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Pages: 14
Publication Date: Unavailable
INTRODUCTION During the past decade a wealth of knowledge has been acquired about the mechanisms and reactions responsible for the physical properties of metals. In the field of steels, in particular, research of a fundamental nature has enabled us to interpret mechanical properties such as hardness, brittleness, creep strength, etc., in terms of atomic interactions. So rapid has been the development of physical metallurgy in some fields that publications are often outdated by the time they appear in print. The development of new steel products has been rather empirical by nature in the past and only during the past few years have new products been "designed" in terms of known physico-metallurgical phenomena. However, although this is a great stride forward it should be added that the development of a commercially successful product is a far more complicated process. In addition to the physico-metallurgical background this requires consideration of factors such as low production cost, market research and probably most valuable of all, an interested end user to co-operate in the development. This paper deals rather briefly with three of the most recent developments in steels in Britain with which the author has had some association. The main purpose of this is to demonstrate how the improved properties of the new product are based upon established physico-metallurgical phenomena. Generally speaking a commercially successful product of the type described here offers similar properties to that of an existing product at lower cost or has improved properties or features such as greater ease of cold forming, at similar cost. ULTRA-FINE GRAIN STRUCTURAL STEELS The development of higher yield strength structural steels dates back over a considerable number of years and has led to a variety of types. The one described below contains niobium as a grain refiner in an otherwise conventional mild steel matrix. By controlled rolling in a strip mill considerably increased yield strengths are obtained. In Fig. 1 are shown somewhat diagrammatically the relative hardening effects of carbon and manganese on ferrite. It will be seen that strength is enhanced by the solid solution hardening effect of manganese and the pearlite content. An obvious limitation of high pearlite content is a lack of cold workability and weldability. Manganese has to be restricted to low levels for the same reasons. The two other mechanisms which are known to impart higher strength are precipitation hardening and grain refinement. Precipitation hardening is impractical in most cases for structural steels and it is therefore clear that only grain refinement remains as a potentially useful strengthening mechanism.
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