Medium-carbon steel 42SiMn (0.4C-0.6Mn-2Si-0.03Nb) was used for a two-step heat treatment consisting of a soaking hold and an annealing hold at bainite transformation temperature. Various heating temperatures, cooling rates, and bainitic hold temperatures were applied to the steel to obtain microstructures typical for TRIP (Transformation Induced Plasticity) steels. TRIP steels utilize the positive effects of a multiphase microstructure with retained austenite, creating a good combination of strength and total elongation and an excellent deep-drawing ability. Typical microstructures consist of ferrite, bainite, and 10–15% of retained austenite. In this work, tensile strengths in the region of 887–1063 MPa were achieved with total elongation A5mm
of 26–47%, and the final microstructures contained 4–16% of retained austenite. The most suitable microstructure and the best combination of high strength and total elongation were achieved for the processing with intercritical heating temperature of 850 °C and cooling at 30 °C/s to the bainitic hold of 400 °C. Very fine pearlite persisted in the microstructures, even after applying a cooling rate of 50 °C/s, however these small areas with extremely fine laths did not prevent the retention of up to 16% of retained austenite, and high total elongation A5mm
above 40% was still reached for these microstructures.
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