Mechanical characteristics evaluation of dual phase and related hardening techniques on AISI 4340 steel
Steel has wide range of applications and is used in various machinery and general metallic components. Depending on the particular application, steels with tailorable and appropriate properties are used. This requires various methods which can be used to alter the properties based on the requirements. Generally, mechanical properties of the steel are improved by conducting the heat treatment processes. The aim of the present work is to experimentally investigate the effects of conventional heat treatments and special hardening techniques for dual phase structure on mechanical properties of AISI 4340 steel. The test specimens are machined as per ASTM standards and hardness, tensile, impact and microstructure analysis were carried out after the heat treatment processes. Dual phase heat treatment to obtain ferrite-bainite structure is performed by heating the as-bought specimen to the intercritical temperature for two hours followed by isothermal holding in fusible salt bath containing sodium nitrate and sodium nitrite at subcritical temperature for 30 minutes and cooling in air to room temperature. Similarly, ferrite-martensite structure is obtained by air cooling after holding isothermally in the salt bath for 10 seconds. Ferrite-bainite steel was observed to be soft, whereas ferrite-martensite steel was relatively harder. Austempered steel has high toughness with optimum hardness and conventionally hardened steel is the hardest among all. Microstructure shows colony of bainite and martensite in ferrite matrix of ferrite-bainite and ferrite-martensite dual phase structures respectively. An increase in brittleness was observed with the increase in hardness due to the conventional hardening to display lesser impact strength compared to austempered steel.
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