Aging behavior of a copper-bearing high-strength low-carbon steel
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The effects of aging temperature and time on the hardness and impact toughness of a copper-bearing high-strength low-carbon steel were investigated. The hardness of the aged samples reached maxima after 1 h and 5 h of aging at 500 and 450°C, respectively; this increase in hardness was followed by a decrease in hardness until a temperature of 700°C, at which secondary hardening was observed. The impact toughness of the aged steel was found to be higher for 5 h of aging. Transmission electron microscopy confirmed the presence of carbide and copper precipitates; also, the secondary hardening could be the result of the transformation of austenite (formed in the aging treatment) to martensite. Differential scanning calorimetry of the steel was performed to better understand the precipitation behavior. The results revealed that the precipitation of the steel exhibited two significant stages of copper precipitate nucleation and coarsening of the precipitates, with corresponding activation energies of 49 and 238 kJ·mol−1, respectively.
Keywordsaging treatment BA-160 steel differential scanning calorimetry precipitation
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