Precipitation of Nano-Sized Carbides in a Ti-Mo Bearing Steel at a Low Transformation Temperature
While the role of Ti and Mo elements on precipitation strengthening in ferrite grains formed during austenite/ferrite transformation is very clear, some uncertainty still presents concerning influence of microalloying elements on bainite transformation. Therefore, the present study focuses on the precipitation behavior occurred in a Ti-Mo bearing steel during bainitic phase transformation under different heat treatment conditions, and the correlation of the precipitation behavior with hardness distribution. Through the present work, it is expected to achieve a better understanding of low-temperature precipitation behavior to assist metallurgists to find out the reason for maintaining a high hardness by longtime isothermal holding, which can provide insight to design a better quality steel product. Vickers hardness was measured from the 1C-2Ti-2Mo, 1C-2Ti-2Mo and 0.5C-1Ti-2Mo steels treated by isothermal holding at 550 oC for 5 to 60 min. The average Vickers hardness was in the range of 245 - 276, 290 - 335 and 220 - 245, respectively. Therefore, higher hardness can be obtained if the steel containing higher carbon and microalloying elements can form precipitations in the ferrite matrix. On the other hand, increasing Vickers hardness with isothermal holding times indicates a good thermal stability character of complex carbides. The excellent thermal stability can be attributed to the addition of Mo element, which can inhibit the growth of carbides during longtime isothermal holding. Furthermore, the addition of Mo in the steel can avoid annihilation of dislocations during longtime aging. By taking advantages of these two effects, high strength can be achieved for high-strength low-alloy steels containing Mo element. Transmission electron microscopy image showed nano-sized carbides nucleated at dislocations, instead of interfacial precipitations within ferrite grain matrix, because the interface precipitation morphology only occurred accompanying the austenite decomposition reaction. However, the bainitic phase transformation was of a displacive transformation character, thus the complex carbides could not form during the bainitic phase transformation due to a very fast transformation velocity.