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Evolution of precipitates, in particular cruciform and cuboid particles, during simulated direct charging of thin slab cast vanadium microalloyed steels

Baker, T.N. and Li, Y. and Wilson, J.A. and Carven, A.J. and Crowther, D.N. (2004) Evolution of precipitates, in particular cruciform and cuboid particles, during simulated direct charging of thin slab cast vanadium microalloyed steels. Materials Science and Technology, 20 (6). pp. 720-730. ISSN 0267-0836

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A study has been undertaken of four vanadium based steels which have been processed by a simulated direct charging route using processing parameters typical of thin slab casting, where the cast product has a thickness of 50 to 80mm ( in this study 50 mm) and is fed directly to a furnace to equalise the microstructure prior to rolling. In the direct charging process, cooling rates are faster, equalisation times shorter and the amount of deformation introduced during rolling less than in conventional practice. Samples in this study were quenched after casting, after equalisation, after 4th rolling pass and after coiling, to follow the evolution of microstructure. The mechanical and toughness properties and the microstructural features might be expected to differ from equivalent steels, which have undergone conventional processing. The four low carbon steels (~0.06wt%) which were studied contained 0.1wt%V (V-N), 0.1wt%V and 0.010wt%Ti (V-Ti), 0.1wt%V and 0.03wt%Nb (V-Nb), and 0.1wt%V, 0.03wt%Nb and 0.007wt%Ti (V-Nb-Ti). Steels V-N and V-Ti contained around 0.02wt% N, while the other two contained about 0.01wt%N. The as-cast steels were heated at three equalising temperatures of 1050C, 1100C or 1200C and held for 30-60 minutes prior to rolling. Optical microscopy and analytical electron microscopy, including parallel electron energy loss spectroscopy (PEELS), were used to characterise the precipitates. In the as-cast condition, dendrites and plates were found. Cuboid particles were seen at this stage in Steel V-Ti, but they appeared only in the other steels after equalization. In addition, in the final product of all the steels, fine particles were seen, but it was only in the two titanium steels that cruciform precipitates were present. PEELS analysis showed that the dendrites, plates, cuboids, cruciforms and fine precipitates were essentially nitrides. The two Ti steels had better toughness than the other steels but inferior lower yield stress values. This was thought to be, in part, due to the formation of cruciform precipitates in austenite, thereby removing nitrogen and the microalloying elements which would have been expected to precipitate in ferrite as dispersion hardening particles.