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Soft-martensitic Chromium Nickel Steels

Steels with soft martensitic microstructure are used in a wide range of applications with the steel containing 12 % chrome and 4 % nickel being considered as the most important representative of this group. The following table contains information on their chemical composition and weldability. material designation according EN 10088-1 X5CrNi13-1 X5CrNi13-4 X5CrNi13-6 X5CrNi16-6 X5CrNiMo16-5-1 X5CrNi17-4 %C <0.05 <0.05 <0.05 <0.05 <0.05 <0.05 %Cr 13.0 13.0 13.0 16.0 16.0 17.0 %Mo 0-0.4 0.4 0.4 1.5 %Ni 1-2.0 4.0 6.0 6.0 5.0 4.0 weldability good good good good/limited good/limited good/limited

The mechanical properties of such materials lie within a very broad range depending on their chemical composition and above all on the type of heat treatment performed although consideration is only paid to type X5CrNi13-4 in the following section. The basic precept of development was primarily to lower the carbon content to increase the ductility of the martensitic structure and to reduce the tendency towards cold cracking plus to achieve a structure as free as possible from -ferrite by alloying with 4 to 6 % nickel. Thus at ambient temperature the structure consists of soft martensite with small amounts of undercooled -ferrite and austenite. Tempering further increases the ductility and reduces the hardness or strength. The low carbon content and the addition by alloying of approx. 0.5 % molybdenum simultaneously improve corrosion resistance. One major advantage of the soft-martensitic Cr-Ni steels compared with pure Cr steels is their excellent weldability. Weldability of the soft-martensitic steels is essentially typified by three characteristics which are: 1. Formation of low-carbon, ductile martensite in the HAZ and in the weld metal which greatly reduces the tendency towards cold cracking. 2. Low -ferrite contents. This largely eliminates the tendency towards coarse grain formation during welding. 3. Hydrogen sensitivity of the martensitic structure. Hydrogen-induced cold cracks may arise with contents of diffusible hydrogen of HDM > 5 ml/100 g.
Bhler Schweitechnik Austria GmbH. - Mat-Soft Mart CrNi-Steels.doc

Welding of Soft-martensitic Cr-Ni Steels


The type of heat treatment represents a major influencing factor on the mechanical properties of these materials. Soft martensites in nickel contents above 3.5 % exhibit a metallographic peculiarity, namely the formation of finely dispersed austenite at tempering temperatures above 580C. This effect leads to a rise in the impact energy values in the 13/4 weld metal whereby highest values are achieved between 600 und 620C. At higher tempering temperatures the impact energy drops off again due to transformation of the tempering austenite into martensite on cooling. The choice of interpass temperature is particularly important in preventing cold cracks in welded joints. Practical experience gained in connection with soft martensitic materials show that sudden conversion of large weld areas into martensite should be prevented during postweld cooling. Otherwise conditions of extreme transformation and residual stress are to be anticipated in the weld metal which may in turn trigger cold cracks. Therefore interpass temperatures within the Ms temperature range must be considered critical. It is recommended that the interpass temperature for X5CrNi13-1 weld metal is held between 120 and 220C and for X5CrNi13-4 and X5CrNi13-6 weld metals between 100 and 160C. This means that for each weld bead the martensitic transformation will be approximately 50% which should be the aim from

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both a metallographic and stress engineering point of view. At all events it is necessary to adhere strictly to the interpass temperature mentioned if subsequent heat treatment cannot be performed. Welding Technology In accordance with the properties encountered during welding of soft-martensitic steels it is therefore advisable to adhere to the welding technology described below. The notes apply to the most important soft-martensitic steel containing 13 % Cr and 4 % Ni. Use only filler metals of the same alloy composition as the base for welding. Coated stick electrodes and submerged arc flux powders must be re-dried in accordance with the manufacturers instructions to comply with a hydrogen content in the weld metal of < 5 ml/100 g. Thick-walled components should be pre-heated to 100C and welded with an interpass temperature ranging between 100 and 160C. Postweld tempering or at least postweld quenching is necessary to increase ductility.

Bhler Schweitechnik Austria GmbH. - Mat-Soft Mart CrNi-Steels.doc

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