A 2.1 GPA TRIPLE-PHASE SPRING STEEL
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ZHONGYANG LIANG, WENTAO ZHOU, XUAN WANG, DEREK O. NORTHWOOD, CHENG LIU
The key way of achieving sustainability of a product is to design a manufacturing process that increases the mechanical properties of traditional materials, e.g. steel, whilst also increasing processing efficiency, and diminishing energy consumption. A novel process has been developed that allows for a traditional spring steel (60Si2Mn) to be produced with a high level of strength (tensile strength is over 2100 MPa, bending strength is 4100 MPa, yield strength is 1700 MPa as well as hardness of 59 HRC), also retaining reasonable ductility on an industrial scale. It is shown that a triple-phase microstructure comprising lenticular prior martensite, nano-scaled needle/lath-like bainitic ferrite and film retained austenite, is obtained. The excellent combination of strength and ductility is attributed to a synergistic multi-phase strengthening effect. The nano-scaled structure exhibits a good balance between strength and toughness. The presence of prior martensite provides the kinetics of subsequent nano-scaled bainitic transformation by bainitic laths nucleating at the martensite–austenite interfaces. This design methodology potentially broadens the application of spring steel to components that experience more demanding service environments, such as heavy loads.
triple-phase microstructure, prior martensite, high strength, nano-scaled bainitic ferrite, and retained austenite