For the establishment of a novel development process of new structural materials, short-term characterization methods capable of testing hundreds of spherical micro samples are needed. This paper introduces a compression test on spherical micro samples as a short-term characterization method to investigate the elastic-plastic deformation behavior. To demonstrate the potential of this newly developed method, the micro compression test is performed with a maximum loading of 300 N on 100Cr6 (AISI 52100 bearing steel) samples, with a diameter of 0.8 mm, in 15 different heat treatment conditions. The austenitizing temperature is varied between 800 and 1150 °C. Tempering of the samples is carried out in a differential scanning calorimetry process with temperatures of 180, 230 and 300 °C. Out of force-displacement curves and stress-strain relations, so-called descriptors (characteristic values) which are sensitive to the applied heat treatment can be extracted. The change of mechanical properties due to heat treatment and the resulting microstructure is presented by the trend of a stress descriptor in dependence of austenitizing and annealing temperature, which can be compared to the trend of the tensile strength as a material property obtained by conventional tensile tests. The trend of the descriptor determined in the compression test on spherical samples indicates the validity of this approach as a short-term characterization method.
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