SELECTED DEVELOPMENTS IN NB-MICROALLOYED FORGINGS FOR INDUCTION HARDENING, AND PEARLITIC WIRE ROD
Niobium-microalloying technology has been increasingly applied in a wide range of steel applications over the past half-century to enhance properties; namely to increase strength, control microstructure, and enable a variety of applications. To achieve desired performance levels, thermomechanically processed microalloyed steels are widely supplied by the steel industry for high volume applications in hot-rolled plate, sheet and structural steels. However, in steel long products and forgings, the final properties are often generated by downstream users, after heat-treatment, surface hardening, forging or wire drawing. Two examples are presented highlighting advancements associated with Nb-microalloying to enhance microstructures and properties developed during thermomechanical and/or downstream processing. In the first example, a 0.02 wt. pct. Nb addition was made to a medium-carbon bar steel intended for induction-hardening applications requiring fatigue and fracture resistance in bending and torsion. The Nb addition as well as thermomechanical bar processing led to beneficial refinement of both the pre-induction and post-induction microstructures. In the second example, a 0.01 wt. pct. Nb addition to a high-carbon wire rod was found to refine the pearlite interlamellar spacing, and increase the hardness.
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