This paper investigates softening phenomena within the post-dynamic recrystallization (PDRX) process in 300M high-strength steel specimens with different initial dynamically recrystallized volume fractions. Isothermal, interrupted compression experiments were performed on a Gleeble-3500 at a temperature of 1273 K and strain rate of 0.01 s−1
. To acquire different initial volume fractions of dynamically recrystallized (DRX) grains, deformation was interrupted at two strain levels and immediately followed by isothermal annealing treatments. The softening behaviors respectively caused by the static recrystallization (SRX) and metadynamic recrystallization (MDRX) were qualitatively characterized by variations in the mechanical properties of the deformed and recrystallized grains. On the basis of the Taylor dislocation model, the evolution of geometric necessary dislocations (GNDs) and statistically stored dislocations (SSDs) densities were also discussed to qualitatively clarify the nature of different softening behaviors. Results indicate that the SRX occurred alone in samples without initial DRX grains, after an incubation time of approximately 50 s, while MDRX initially appeared within 1 s and completed at about 8 s in samples with a high initial volume fraction of DRX grains. The microhardness, indentation hardness, and Young’s modulus in the deformed and recrystallized grains decreased gradually with an increase of MDRX and SRX volume fractions. The sink-in and pile-up phenomena were enhanced by the SRX and MDRX softening processes, respectively. The SSDs density decreased more noticeably during the MDRX process than that during the SRX, which indicates that the MDRX process contributed to a more significant softening effect within the microstructural evolution regimes.
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