Contributions to Discussion

Organization: The Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Pages: 12
Publication Date: Unavailable
A. H. Mokken: I am pleased to have been given this opportunity to make a contribution to Dr Muller's paper tonight. The reason for this is that, at one stage in our careers, we were associates in the same undertaking. Dr Muller, then fresh from University, with a degree in pure science, had just stepped onto the first rung of the ladder, which, it was then thought, would lead him to a career in gold extractive metallurgy. However, endowed with an enquiring mind and conscious of a lack of fundamental training in general metallurgy and engineering, he felt a need for further academic study. To meet this need and, more importantly, to meet the necessary finances, he found his opportunity in steel. Armed with a bursary, he bade farewell to gold and proceeded overseas, to the University of Sheffield, to train as a steel metallurgist. The outcome of these academic efforts, which were followed by assignments in the steel industry and a further period at Sheffield, is the man we have listened to tonight-a highly qualified metallurgist who has displayed a sound knowledge of his subject. In choosing Sheffield, Dr Muller became associated with a steelmaking centre of world renown, a centre usually credited with the first systematic production of alloy steels, as far back as the 18th century. Since that time, great advances have been made in the production of alloy steels and this is especially so in the last decade or two, when major developments in civil, mechanical, electrical, aeronautical and nuclear engineering have been made possible by the development of steels with improved properties. In spite of spectacular advances in the technology of non-ferrous alloys, plastics and other materials of construction, steel has maintained its role as a pre-eminent material for engineering use. With the gradual accumulation of data on the properties of steels, and the use of thin film electron microscopy, to study the behaviour and characteristics of such phenomena as dislocations in metals and other microstructural features, the physical metallurgist appears to be approaching the stage of an exact understanding of such phenomena as strength, ductility and brittleness-a knowledge which could lead to close control of such properties and, therefore, to the attainment of the highest goals. An interesting example, illustrating the use of fundamental principles, based on physico-metallurgical research, is the development of the maraging steels developed by Bieber at the International Nickel Company. These steels have met the extreme technological requirements of the space age by providing the material for the cases of large rockets in which qualities, such as high tensile strength, toughness, workability and weldability are most important. Attractive as they might appear to be in considerations of savings of weight, cost of erection, transport of materials and foundations, the use of high strength steels has been accompanied by special problems such as brittle fracture, hydrogen embrittlement, notch-toughness and fatigue. It has been found that high strength steels, which performed acceptably in conventional tension tests, were found to undergo failure, in a brittle manner, in service. Hydrogen embrittlement has caused spectacular failures at a fraction of the normal ultimate tensile strength, and a lack of correlation between fatigue and tensile strengths has diminished the advantages to be obtained from the use of high strength steel in some applications. A new approach to the selection of materials for engineering design has resulted from a consideration of these phenomena in which strength, as such, is no longer as significant as it was previously. Parallel with the development of high strength steel has been the need for suitable techniques for joining component parts and here welding has played an
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