Recrystallisation annealing, a repeated heat treatment between different stages of cold rolling of martensitic chromium steel strip, is successful when neither high rolling forces nor wear of the working rolls occur during the subsequent cold rolling. Mechanical properties as tensile strength, yield, elongation or hardness have been, by tradition, the criteria that described the quality of the annealing process. In recent years, the development of the measurement equipment in the rolling mills and of the instruments for material investigations has accentuated more and more the role played by the microstructural properties in the evaluation of the heat treatment. Two microstructural characteristics of the degree of annealing are, firstly and most important, the recrystallisation degree, and, secondly, the secondary carbide density.
The sample manufacturing and heat treatment, modelling and microstructure investigations by light optical- (LOM) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM) described in this article were carried out at Sandvik Materials Technology’s R&D Department and Bell Furnace Line in Sandviken, Sweden, while microstructure investigations and evaluation by scanning electron microscopy with field emission gun (FEG-SEM) and electron back scatter diffraction (EBSD) were done at the Corrosion and Metals Research Institute (KIMAB) in Stockholm, Sweden.
The first part of this work shows that, in contrast to the traditional methods LOM and SEM, that use chemical etching for the preparation of the samples, EBSD can successfully characterise recrystallised structures in annealed martensitic chromium steels. Unlike conventional microscopy with LOM and SEM, EBSD is able to reveal the grain geometry, as well as to separate and identify the different phases in this kind of steels (ferrite, M23-, M6-carbides). Important parameters such as grain size, particle size and recrystallised fraction can be measured with high accuracy. This information can be used to understand, evaluate, control and even predict the recrystallisation annealing of martensitic chromium steel.
The second part of this work presents how the results from microstructure description by EBSD can be directly used in relatively simple empirical models for determination of recrystallisation degree as function of the annealing parameters and the deformation history. EBSD was applied to evaluate the degree of recrystallisation in a series of annealing tests, with the purpose to model recrystallisation temperature in two types of martensitic chromium steel strip, a traditional one and one alloyed with molybdenum, cold rolled with different amounts of reduction and annealed with different temperatures, soaking times and heating rates. The empirical quadratic models were built with Umetrics’ software for experimental design, MODDEÒ 8.0 and they defined the recrystallisation degree (limits for LAGB and HAGB were set to 1.5° and 7.5° for the first grade and 2.5° and 10° for second one) and the secondary carbides density as functions of annealing temperature, soaking time and cold reduction (the factor heating rate was removed as nonsignificant). To be observed that these empirical models were fit much better for the recrystallisation degree than for the secondary carbides density.
The modelling work described above, together with the implementation of online physical temperature models in the bell annealers may lead to an increased productivity in the production plant by shortening the annealing cycle and minimising scrap and thus to an economical gain of ca 1,5 MSEK per year at Sandvik Materials Technology.
Stockholm: KTH , 2009. , 72 p.