An Electron Microscopy Study of Graphite Growth in Nodular Cast Irons
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Growth of graphite during solidification and high-temperature solid-state transformation has been investigated in samples cut out from a thin-wall casting which solidified partly in the stable (iron–graphite) and partly in the metastable (iron–cementite) systems. Transmission electron microscopy has been used to characterize graphite nodules in as-cast state and in samples having been fully graphitized at various temperatures in the austenite field. Nodules in the as-cast material show a twofold structure characterized by an inner zone where graphite is disoriented and an outer zone where it is well crystallized. In heat-treated samples, graphite nodules consist of well-crystallized sectors radiating from the nucleus. These observations suggest that the disoriented zone appears because of mechanical deformation when the liquid contracts during its solidification in the metastable system. During heat-treatment, the graphite in this zone recrystallizes. In turn, it can be concluded that nodular graphite growth mechanism is the same during solidification and solid-state transformation.
We are pleased to acknowledge D. Poquillon for calculations performed with CASTEM software (Figure 7). FIB preparation was performed by C. Josse at the UMS-Raimond Castaing service in Toulouse who is warmly thanked.
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