Intercritical annealing to achieve a positive strain-rate sensitivity of mechanical properties and suppression of macroscopic plastic instabilities in multi-phase medium-Mn steels

Benzing, J.T. and Luecke, W.E. and Mates, S.P. and Ponge, D. and Raabe, D. and Wittig, J.E.

Volume: 803 Pages:
DOI: 10.1016/j.msea.2020.140469
Published: 2021

This study investigates the high strain-rate tensile properties of a cold-rolled medium-Mn steel (Fe–12Mn–3Al-0.05C % in mass fraction) designed to have a multi-phase microstructure and positive strain-rate sensitivity. At the intercritical annealing temperature of 585 °C, increasing the annealing time from 0.5 h to 8 h increased the phase volume fraction of ultrafine-grained (UFG) austenite from 2% to 35% by reversion. The remainder of the microstructure was composed of UFG ferrite and recovered α′-martensite (the latter resembles the cold-rolled state). Servo hydraulic tension testing and Kolsky-bar tension testing were used to measure the tensile properties from quasi-static strain rates to dynamic strain rates (ε˙ = 10-4 s-1 to ε˙ = 103 s-1). The strain-rate sensitivities of the yield strength (YS) and ultimate tensile strength (UTS) were positive for both annealing times. Tensile properties and all non-contact imaging modalities (infrared imaging and digital image correlation) indicated an advantageous suppression of Lüders bands and Portevin Le Chatelier (PLC) bands (a critical challenge in multi-phase medium-Mn steel design) due to the unique combination of microstructural constituents and overall composition. Fracture surfaces of specimens annealed for 0.5 h showed some instances of localized cleavage fracture (approximately 30 μm wide areas and lath-like ridges). Specimens annealed for 8 h maintained a greater product of strength and elongation by at least 2.5 GPa % (on average for each strain rate). The relevant processing-structure-property relationships are discussed in the context of recommendations for design strategies concerning multi-phase steels such that homogeneous deformation behavior and positive strain-rate sensitivities can be achieved. © 2020

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