Indexed on: 01 Aug '06Published on: 01 Aug '06Published in: Metallurgical and Materials Transactions A
Nano/submicron austenitic stainless steels have attracted increasing attention over the past few years due to fine structural control for tailoring engineering properties. At the nano/submicron grain scales, grain boundary strengthening can be significant, while ductility remains attractive. To achieve a nano/submicron grain size, metastable austenitic stainless steels are heavily cold-worked, and annealed to convert the deformation-induced martensite formed during cold rolling into austenite. The amount of reverted austenite is a function of annealing temperature. In this work, an AISI 301 metastable austenitic stainless steel is 90 pct cold-rolled and subsequently annealed at temperatures varying from 600 °C to 900 °C for a dwelling time of 30 minutes. The effects of annealing on the microstructure, average austenite grain size, martensite-to-austenite ratio, and carbide formation are determined. Analysis of the as-cold-rolled microstructure reveals that a 90 pct cold reduction produces a combination of lath type and dislocation cell-type martensitic structure. For the annealed samples, the average austenite grain size increases from 0.28 µm at 600 °C to 5.85 µm at 900 °C. On the other hand, the amount of reverted austenite exhibits a maximum at 750 °C, where austenite grains with an average grain size of 1.7 µm compose approximately 95 pct of the microstructure. Annealing temperatures above 750 °C show an increase in the amount of martensite. Upon annealing, (Fe, Cr, Mo)23C6 carbides form within the grains and at the grain boundaries.