Main content area

Early stages of cementite precipitation during tempering of 1C–1Cr martensitic steel

Hou, Ziyong, Babu, R. Prasath, Hedström, Peter, Odqvist, Joakim
Journal of materials science 2019 v.54 no.12 pp. 9222-9234
carbon, chromium, computer simulation, iron, models, steel, temperature, tempering
The precipitation of cementite (M₃C) from as-quenched martensite during tempering at 500 and 700 °C was investigated in a Fe–1C–1Cr (wt%) alloy. Tempering for a short duration at 700 °C results in a Cr/Fe ratio in the core region of M₃C precipitates which is equal to the bulk alloy composition, while a shell on the surface of the precipitates exhibits a higher Cr concentration. With a prolonged tempering up to 5 h, the shell concentration gradually increases toward the equilibrium value, but the core region has not yet reached the equilibrium value. After tempering for 5 s at 500 °C, there is no Cr enrichment found at the M₃C–matrix interface, while a transition to partitioning of Cr is found during the first 5 min of tempering at 500 °C. These experimental results indicate that M₃C grows without significant partitioning of substitutional elements at both temperatures initially, i.e., growth is carbon diffusion controlled. This stage is, however, very short, and soon after 5 s at 700 °C and 5 min at 500 °C, Cr diffusion becomes important. Calculations using the diffusion simulation software DICTRA and precipitation simulation software TC-PRISMA were performed. The diffusion simulations using the local equilibrium interface condition show excellent agreement with experiments concerning Cr enrichment of the particles, but the size evolution is overestimated. On the other hand, the precipitation simulations underestimate the size evolution. It is suggested that a major improvement in the precipitation model could be achieved by implementing a modified nucleation model that considers nucleation far from the equilibrium composition.