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Materials Science & Engineering A 680 (2017) 197202

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Materials Science & Engineering A


journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/msea

A novel and simple technique for development of dual phase steels with
excellent ductility
crossmark

H. Ashra , M. Shamanian, R. Emadi, N. Saeidi
Department of Materials Engineering, Isfahan University of Technology, Isfahan 84156-83111, Iran

A R T I C L E I N F O A BS T RAC T

Keywords: A new and simple approach was introduced to produce dual phase (DP) steels with excellent ductility. This
Dual phase steel technique included intercritical annealing of a cold-rolled ferrite-pearlite structure followed by water quenching
Mechanical characterization to produce a ferrite-martensite duplex structure, and a subsequent short intercritical annealing at a lower
Ductility, work hardening temperature followed by water quenching to produce the nal DP steel. It was found that the microstructure of
the newly developed DP steel consisted of chain-like networked martensite in the ferrite matrix with both
ultrane and coarse grain structure. Despite the same value of ultimate tensile strength (736 MPa), the
uniform elongation and total elongation of the newly developed DP steel were 52% and 54% higher than those
for a DP steel with the same composition and martensite volume fraction produced by conventional intercritical
annealing. This new DP steel also exhibited a superior strength-elongation balance (UTSTE > 30,000 MPa%)
in comparison with commercial and thermomechanically processed DP steels. The newly developed DP steel
showed two stages of work hardening based on the Kocks-Mecking approach corresponding to an initial rapid
decrease of work hardening rate (= d/d) with stress followed by stage III hardening. This steel also exhibited
larger values of work hardening exponent in the Hollomon and Ludwik equations compared with the
intercritically annealed DP steel.

1. Introduction properties of DP steels. Das et al. [6] studied the inuence of


martensite morphology on tensile properties of DP steels. They found
Dual phase (DP) steels which consisted of martensite islands in that ne and brous martensite obtained by intercritical annealing of
ferrite matrix are part of the family of advanced high strength steels an initial martensitic structure possess the best combination of the
(AHSS) that oer improved mechanical properties such as high strength and ductility. Saeidi et al. [7] reported that by renement of
strength, continuous yielding, low yield ratio and high initial work martensite particles in a DP steel, uniform elongation (UE) as well as
hardening rate, making them suitable for automotive applications total elongation (TE) were improved by 25% and 34%, respectively,
[1,2]. However, the moderate fracture strain is one of the, is not the while tensile strength was nearly the same. Papa Rao et al. [8]
main, limitation for extending the range of applications for DP steels, produced ultrane grained DP steel with bimodal grain structure.
especially when the components undergo substantial deformation They observed that bimodal ferrite grain structure promoted work
during forming [3]. Present day industrial applications of sheet metal hardening rate and UE, while ultimate tensile strength (UTS) slightly
forming require materials with high plastic deformation potential and decreased. These studies demonstrated that mechanical properties of
high strength. This goal is not easy to achieve, because usually an DP steels can be improved by controlling the microstructural features
increase in the strength of the sheet involves a reduction in its like martensite morphology and size and ferrite grain structure.
formability. The requirements of specic application determines the DP steels are conventionally fabricated through intercritical anneal-
trade-o between strength and ductility which leads to microstructure ing of a low carbon steel with suitable chemical composition [9]. In the
engineering challenges [4]. last decade many attempts have been made to design new processing
Mechanical properties of DP steels primarily depends on the methods for the development of DP steels with improved mechanical
volume fraction, morphology, size, distribution and properties of the properties. However, these studies only focused on the improvement of
constituent phases [5]. So far, some researches has been performed strength and production of ultra-high strength DP steels [1014].
regarding the inuence of microstructural features on the mechanical In the present study, a novel and simple technique is introduced to


Corresponding author.
E-mail address: h.ashra@ma.iut.ac.ir (H. Ashra).

http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.msea.2016.10.098
Received 30 August 2016; Received in revised form 16 October 2016; Accepted 26 October 2016
Available online 28 October 2016
0921-5093/ 2016 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
H. Ashra et al. Materials Science & Engineering A 680 (2017) 197202

steel. The critical temperatures of A1 and A3 were calculated to be


715 C and 833 C, respectively, using the following equations [15]:
A1 = 723 10.7Mn + 29.1Si 16.9Ni + 16.9Cr + 290As + 6.38W (1)

A3 = 910 203 C + 44.7Si 15.2Ni + 104V + 31.5Mo + 13.1W (2)


The microstructure of samples were investigated using optical
microscopy (OM) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). After
grinding to 4000 grit nish and polishing with 0.3 m alumina
suspension, the specimens were etched in 2% Nital solution to reveal
the microstructure. Grain size and volume fraction measurements were
respectively conducted by mean intercept (ASTM E112-96 [16]) and
point counting (ASTM E562-83 standard [17]) methods, using the
image J software. Tensile specimens (12.6 mm gauge length, 5 mm
width, 2 mm thickness) were machined out from the processed steels
through electro discharge machining. For each kind of steel, three
specimens were prepared and tensile tested at a constant cross head
speed of 1 mm/min using a Hounseld H50KS machine. The fractured
surfaces of tensile tested specimens were examined by SEM to reveal
the nature of the fracture mode.

3. Results and discussions

3.1. Microstructures

Fig. 2a shows the microstructure of the initial steel consisted of


85 vol% of ferrite with a grain size of 6 m and 15 vol% of pearlite.
The microstructure of cold-rolled steel (Fig. 2b) consisted of elongated
pearlite and ferrite grains parallel to the rolling direction. After
intercritical annealing at 780 C for 60 min followed by water quench-
ing (Fig. 2c), a duplex microstructure composed of 50 vol% of
martensite islands (dark phase) in the ferrite matrix (bright phase)
Fig. 1. Processing routes used in this study to produce DP steels, (a) one-step annealing, was obtained. The average grain size of ferrite was 3.7 m and
(b) double-step annealing. A1 and A3: austenite formations start and nish temperature
martensite islands had an average diameter of 4.6 m.
during heating, respectively; WQ: water quenching; CR: cold rolling.
Fig. 3 shows the SEM images of DP microstructures obtained by
dierent routes. For the DP steel produced by one-step annealing
produce a DP steel with new microstructure and improved ductility
(Fig. 3a), equiaxed and mostly isolated martensite islands were
without the loss of strength. In this technique, rst a ferrite-martensite
observed in the ferrite matrix. For the newly developed DP micro-
duplex structure with equal volume fraction of each phase was
structure obtained by the double-step annealing (Fig. 3b), chain-like
produced by intercritical annealing of a cold-rolled ferrite-pearlite
networked martensite islands along the ferrite grain boundaries were
structure followed by water quenching. Then, this duplex structure
observed. Both steels consisted of a similar martensite volume fraction
underwent a short intercritical annealing at a lower temperature and
of 28%. However, the martensite islands were smaller in the double-
subsequent water quenching to produce the nal DP steel. The tensile
step annealed sample. The grain size of ferrite in the one-step and
properties of the newly developed DP steel were examined and
double-step annealed samples were 5 0.18 and 4 0.3 m, respec-
compared to those for a DP steel with the same amount of martensite
tively. The ferrite grains in the DP microstructure produced by one-step
volume fraction prepared by conventional intercritical annealing and
annealing were predominantly larger than 2 m, but the microstruc-
subsequent water quenching.
ture of the double-step annealed DP steel consisted of both ultrane
ferrite grains with sizes smaller than 2 m and coarse ferrite grains
2. Materials and methods with sizes larger than 5 m. All the ultrane ferrite grains were located
within the martensite islands, implying that they were nucleated in the
The steel used in this investigation was a hot rolled plate of low second intercritical annealing step. A small number of UFG ferrite
carbon-manganese steel (0.18% C, 1.25% Mn, 0.2% Si) with a thickness grains was also observed in the one-step processed sample. These UFG
of 5 mm. The processing methods used in this study to produce DP ferrite grains were located in areas with the higher number density of
steels are schematically illustrated in Fig. 1. Two routes, a one-step martensite islands, where the presence of austenite islands at the
annealing and a double-step annealing, were employed to produce DP intercritical temperature prevented the growth of ferrite grains. Park
steels with dierent microstructures. In the one-step annealing route or et al. [18] also obtained chain-like networked martensite in DP steels
conventional intercritical annealing process (Fig. 1a), rst the initial by intercritical annealing and subsequent water quenching of a cold
ferrite-pearlite structure was cold-rolled up to 60% of thickness rolled martensitic microstructure. However, in the present study the
reduction. The cold-rolled steel was then isothermally annealed at chain-like networked martensite islands in ferrite matrix were pro-
the intercritical temperature of 720 C for 60 min and water-quenched duced by intercritical annealing of un-deformed duplex microstructure
(cooling rate 300 C/s) to obtain the DP structure. In the double-step followed by water quenching.
annealing (Fig. 1b), the cold-rolled steel was rst annealed at the
intercritical temperature of 780 C for 60 min and quenched in water 3.2. Tensile properties
to produce a ferrite-martensite duplex structure. The resulting duplex
structure was subsequently underwent a short intercritical annealing at The engineering and true stress-strain curves of DP steels are
720 C for 15 min followed by water quenching to produce the nal DP illustrated in Fig. 4. Table 1 presents a summary of tensile properties of

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H. Ashra et al. Materials Science & Engineering A 680 (2017) 197202

Fig. 2. OM micrograph of (a) initial steel, (b) initial steel after 60% of cold rolling, (c) duplex microstructure obtained by intercritical annealing of cold-rolled sample at 780 C followed
by water quenching.

studied DP steels. Both DP steels showed continuous yielding and low martensite, leading to a DP steel with adequate elongation along with
yield ratio which are typical characteristics of DP steels [2]. Although high strength levels [18,19]. It was also demonstrated that the
both steels had almost the same value of UTS, but the double-step plasticity of martensite increases with decreasing its particle size.
annealed DP steel showed a yield strength (YS) of 9% lower than that Reducing the martensite particle size also cause more eective load
for the one-step annealed sample. However, the double-step annealed transfer to them [14]. Therefore a DP steel with ne martensite particle
sample exhibited excellent UE and TE values of 31.33% and 42.51%, size is expected to have a low yield strength with high ductility. The
respectively, which were about 52% and 54% higher than those for the simultaneous presence of UFG and coarse ferrite grains also leads to a
one-step annealed DP steel. The excellent elongation of DP steel DP steel with good combination of strength and ductility, as UFG
produced by double-step annealing route can be attributed to three ferrite provides strength while CG ferrite provides ductility for the
factors: material. This is in agreement with the previous results on bimodal
grain-sized steels [8,20,21].
chain like networked morphology of martensite phase; Energy absorption capability (UTSTE) is an important parameter
small size of martensite islands; representing the crashworthiness in the automotive industry [22].
presence of UFG ferrite grains besides the coarse grained ferrite. Fig. 5 compares the data of UTS vs. TE for the DP steels produced in
the present study with those reported in the literature for DP and TRIP
It has been demonstrated that chain-like networked martensite steels [14,2327]. As can be seen, the new DP steel developed by
surrounding ferrite grains improves the work hardenability of DP steels double-step annealing had superior strength-elongation balance
and reduce the degree of strain partitioning between the ferrite and (UTSTE > 30,000 MPa%) compared with commercial and thermo-

Fig. 3. SEM micrographs of DP steels obtained by (a) one-step annealing, and (b) double-step annealing. CG F: Coarse grained ferrite; UFG F: Ultrane grained ferrite.

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Fig. 6. Variations of work hardening rate (=d/d) versus true stress for DP steels
produced in this study. TS: Transient stage.

mechanically processed DP steels. This steel also exhibited a higher


strength-elongation balance compared with commercial TRIP590 and
TRIP780 steels. This was owing to the excellent elongation of the newly
developed DP steel, which along with its sucient level of strength,
make it very suitable for components that undergo substantial defor-
mation during forming processes.

3.3. Work hardening behavior

Fig. 4. (a) Engineering and (b) true stress-strain curves of the DP steels produced in the
The work hardening behavior of DP steels were analyzed based on
present study. the Kocks-Mecking approach [28]. Fig. 6 illustrates the variations of
work hardening rate (=d/d) as a function of true stress. The DP
Table 1 steel obtained by one-step annealing exhibited one stage of hardening
Summary of the tensile properties of studied DP steels. behavior corresponding to stage III in which the work hardening rate
decreased almost linearly with the true stress [28]. However, the
Sample YS (MPa) UTS (MPa) UE (%) TE (%) Yield ratio double-step annealed DP steel exhibited a two stage behavior corre-
One-step 441 7 736 5 20.58 0.26 27.56 0.31 0.6
sponding to an initial rapid decrease in work hardening rate with stress
annealed or transient stage followed by the stage III hardening at higher stresses.
DP steel The transient stage which was previously observed in Kocks-Mecking
Double-step 401 9 734 6 31.33 0.38 42.51 0.62 0.55 plots of ferritic steels [29], is dierent from stage I in single crystals,
annealed
and occurs only at low initial plastic strains, the value of which depends
DP steel
on stacking fault energy [30]. There are contradicting reports in the
literature regarding the work hardening behavior of DP steels. Farabi
et al. [31] observed two stages of work hardening in a DP600 steel
corresponding to stage III and stage IV, and three stages of work
hardening in a DP980 steel corresponding to stage II, stage III and
stage IV. In contrast, Delince et al. [32] only observed one stage of work
hardening corresponding to stage III for their DP steels with dierent
grain sizes and VM values. Other studies that used empirical analysis
methods like Hollomon [33], CrussardJaoul [6] and modied
CrussardJaoul [34] for analyzing the work hardening behavior of
DP steels also reported two or three stages of work hardening for DP
steels, which at each stage dierent deformation mechanisms are
involved.
According to Fig. 6, at low and medium stress levels the DP steel
produced by double-step annealing method had a lower work hard-
ening rate than the DP steel produced using one-step annealing,
whereas at high stresses the trend was reversed. This can be attributed
to the presence of UFG ferrite grains and small size of martensite
islands in the double-step annealed DP steel. It has been demonstrated
that UFG and nanocrystalline materials have a low work hardening rate
because the density of dislocations in a nanocrystalline sample
Fig. 5. Comparison of strength-elongation balance (UTSTE) for the new DP steel saturates due to dynamic recovery or due to the annihilation of
developed in this study with those reported for various DP and TRIP steels in the dislocations into the grain boundaries [35]. The presence of UFG
literature [14,2327].
ferrite grains in the DP steel produced by the double-step annealing
decreases its work hardening rate. It was also mentioned that the
plasticity of martensite increases with decreasing its particle size.
Therefore, the higher plasticity of ne martensite islands in the

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Table 2 interface decohesion and decohesion at ferrite-ferrite interfaces [40].


Magnitude of work hardening and work hardening exponents of Hollomon (n) and The double-step annealed DP steel showed larger and deeper dimples
Ludwik (m) equation of studied DP steels.
compared with the one-step annealed sample. It was shown by Park
Sample Work hardening magnitude (MPa) n m et al. [18] that when the martensite grains form a chain-like networked
structure, their joint part acts as the preferential sites for micro-void
One step annealed DP steel 295 0.23 0.56 formation. On the other hand, when the martensite grains are isolated
Double-step annealed DP steel 333 0.28 0.58
in ferrite matrix, micro-voids predominantly form at the ferrite-
martensite interfaces. The number of dimples per unit area on the
double-step annealed sample also lowers its work hardening rate [36]. fracture surface depends mainly on the number of nucleation sites [7].
At high stress values, the DP steel produced by double-step annealing Since the area of the joint part of martensite grains is less than the
method exhibited a higher work hardening rate than the one-step ferrite-martensite interfaces, lower density of voids is created in the
annealed steel. new DP steel developed by double-annealing and the distance between
After yielding, the stress-strain curve in the uniform deformation them would be higher than that for the one-step annealed DP steel.
stage can be expressed by the following relations: Therefore, the dimples in the former can grow to a higher degree and
will coalescence with each other at larger strains. This is consistent
(1) Hollomon equation [37]: with the higher UE and TE of the double-step annealed DP steel.
Mazaheri et al. [41] also observed that in their thermomechanically
= k n (3) processed DP steels, TE had a direct relation with the dimple size so
(2) Ludwik equation [38]: that TE increased with increasing the dimple areal density.

= 0 + k m (4) 4. Conclusions

where and are true stress and true strain, 0 is the elastic limit, k is In this study, a new and simple method was developed to produce a
the strength coecient and n and m are work hardening exponents. DP steel with excellent ductility. This method, named double-step
Work hardening exponent (n) is a good indicator for the work annealing, included intercritical annealing of a cold-rolled ferrite-
hardenability of a material. A material with a high value of n has a pearlite structure followed by water quenching to produce duplex
high work hardening rate and is preferred for processes involving structure containing equal volume fraction of ferrite and martensite,
plastic deformation. Furthermore, a material with a larger work and a subsequent short intercritical annealing at a lower temperature
hardening exponent value can deform more before necking starts followed by water quenching to produce the nal DP steel. The
[39]. The values of work hardening exponents of Hollomon and microstructure and mechanical properties of the new DP steel pro-
Ludwik equations and magnitude of work hardening for studied DP cessed by this double-step annealing method was compared to those
steels are presented in Table 2. The values of work hardening for a DP steel with the same composition and martensite volume
exponents were evaluated by tting the true stress-strain curves to fraction produced by one-step annealing or conventional intercritical
the Eqs. (3) and (4). As can be seen in Table 2, the DP steel produced annealing route. Examination of microstructure and tensile deforma-
by double-step annealing had larger values of work hardening exponent tion behavior of both DP steels showed that:
than the DP steel produced by one-step annealing, which is consistent
with its higher values of UE and magnitude of work hardening. This 1. The microstructure of the newly developed DP steel consisted of
indicates that the new DP steel developed by double-step annealing has chain-like networked martensite within the ferrite matrix, while the
a strong deformation ability and is more suitable for the parts requiring martensite islands in the one-step annealed DP steels were isolated.
intensive plastic deformation during their fabrication. The former also contained both UFG and coarse ferrite grains.
2. The YS of the double-step annealed DP steel was 9% lower than
that for the one-step processed sample. However, despite the same
3.4. Fractography analysis value of UTS, the former exhibited UE and TE values of 52% and
54% higher than those for the one-step annealed sample. The
Representative fractographs of tensile tested specimens are pre- double-step annealed DP steel also exhibited superior strength-
sented in Fig. 7. The fracture surface of both DP steels consisted of elongation balance (UTSTE > 30,000 MPa%) in comparison with
dimples, implying ductile fracture behavior for them. The ductile commercial AHSS and thermomechanically processed DP steels.
fracture in DP steels occurs in three stages: voids nucleation, voids 3. The newly developed DP steel showed two stages of work hardening
growth and voids coalescence [33]. Three modes of void nucleation was behavior based on the Kocks-Mecking approach corresponding to an
reported in DP steels, namely martensite cracking, ferrite-martensite

Fig. 7. SEM image on the fracture surfaces of DP steels produced by (a) one-step annealing, and (b) double-step annealing.

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