Analysis on composition and inclusions of ballpoint pen tip steel

  • Qian-kun Yang
  • Ping Shen
  • Dong Zhang
  • Yan-xin Wu
  • Jian-xun Fu


Ballpoint pen tip steel, a super free-cutting stainless steel, exhibits excellent corrosion resistance and good machining properties. In this study, inductively coupled plasma spectroscopy, metallographic microscopy, and scanning electron microscopy were used to determine the elemental contents in five ballpoint pen tips and their components, morphologies, and inclusion distributions. The results showed that the steels were all S–Pb–Te super free-cutting ferritic stainless steel. The free-cutting phases in the steels were mainly MnS, Pb, and small amounts of PbTe. MnS inclusions were in the form of chain distributions, and the aspect ratio of each size inclusion in the chain was small. The stress concentration effect could substantially reduce the cutting force when the material was machined. Some of the Pb was distributed evenly in the steel matrix as fine particles (1–2 μm), and the rest of the Pb was distributed at the middle or at both ends of the MnS inclusions. The Pb plays a role in lubrication and melting embrittlement, which substantially increases the cutting performance. PbTe was also usually distributed in the middle and at both ends of the MnS inclusions, and Te could convert the sulfides into spindles, thereby improving the cutting performance of the steel.


ballpoint pen tip free-cutting stainless steel inclusions lead tellurium 


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This work is supported by the National Nature Science Foundation of China (No. 51474142).


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Copyright information

© University of Science and Technology Beijing and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Qian-kun Yang
    • 1
  • Ping Shen
    • 1
  • Dong Zhang
    • 1
  • Yan-xin Wu
    • 1
  • Jian-xun Fu
    • 1
  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Advanced Special Steel, Shanghai Key Laboratory of Advanced Ferrometallurgy, School of Materials Science and EngineeringShanghai UniversityShanghaiChina

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