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MICROSTRUCTURE PREDICTION

MFET 3750
KELBY SAYER

INTRODUCTION
It has been observed, in previous labs, that the process of steel manufacturing can determine the
materials hardness. It has also been observed that different alloys can be added to steel to
increase its hardness. Understanding these two concepts help to predict the outcome of this lab.
It is understood that a piece of cold rolled steel is hardened in its rolling process because the
compressing effects on its grain structure. If a given piece of cold rolled steel is brought to its
recrystallization state, then the structure of its grain can relieve itself from the compressing
effects of being cold rolled. This will result in a decrease in the steels hardness.
While decreasing the steels hardness can be achieved, so can increasing its hardness. During the
beginning of steels manufacture, three main components are used. They are iron ore, coke, and
limestone. When they are combined, they make pig iron. Pig iron is very hard and brittle due to
its carbon content which comes from the coke. Steel is formed once a proper amount of carbon is
achieved, giving it good hardness and ductile properties. Knowing that carbon affects steels
hardness, it can be predicted that a hardening compound will increase the steels hardness by
giving it more carbon.
OBJECTIVE
The objective of this lab was to show how a steels microstructure can be altered by heat and
changing its composition. In theory, heating the cold rolled steel to its recrystallization state
would allow the grain structure to relax from its compressed state. This would enlarge the grain
size, which in turn decreases the steels hardness. To increase its hardness, a surface hardening
compound would be used. This would increase the hardness because the surface hardening
compound adds carbon to the steel.
MATERIALS

AISI 1020 Cold Rolled Low Carbon


Steel
o Yield Strength: 39900 psi
o Ultimate Strength: 68900psi
o Elongation: 25%
o Hardness Rockwell B: 84
o Carbon Content: 0.17%-0.23%
o Size: .75X.75

Carbon alloying material: Kasenit


Surface Hardening Compound
Pliers
PSE-Safety glasses, Shade 5 cutting
goggles, Ear plugs, Gloves, Appropriate
clothing/leathers
Rockwell hardness tester B and C
indenters

PROCEDURE

First, three hardness measurements were taken and


recorded from the specimen. The specimen was then
placed in a furnace set at 1700 F. After 15 minutes in the
furnace, the specimen was removed and allowed to slowly
cool to room temperature as shown in Figure 1 and Figure
2. Once cool, the specimen was made free of all oxidized
material with a piece of sandpaper. Three hardness
measurements were again taken and recorded.

The specimen was placed back into the furnace for an


additional 15 minutes. The specimen was then removed
from the furnace and one side was
coated with the hardening
compound. The specimen was
placed back inside the furnace,
with the hardening compound
Figure 1 Specimen being
surface facing up. After 15
removed from furnace.
minutes in the furnace, the
specimen was removed and quenched in water. The hardening
compound surface was identified and marked to prevent
confusion. Any oxidized material was once again removed from
the specimen with sandpaper. A final hardness measurement was
Figure 2 Specimen
taken and recorded on the hardness compound surface and the
cooling slowly to room
opposite surface.
temperature.

RESULTS

From the results of the hardness tests, it is observed that the predictions made were
correct. As seen in Table 1, the specimens hardness was decreased after the first heating
process. The hardness was then increased by the quenching process and it is observed that
it was indeed made harder by the hardening compound. Figure 3 shows the averages of
these measurements.

Table 1 HRB hardness measurements taken at different stages of the lab.

Hardness Rockwell B

Lab Stages

Pre-Heat Hardness Test

Post-Heat Hardness Test

Post-Quench Hardness Test (Hardening


Compound Surface)

Post-Quench Hardness Test (Non-Hardening


Compound Surface)

Hardness Rockwell B
Post-Quench Hardness Test (Non-Hardening Compound Surface)

107.4

Post-Quench Hardness Test (Hardening Compound Surface)

110.3

Post-Heat Hardness Test


Pre-Heat Hardness Test

61.8
82.2
0 20 40 60 80 100120

HRB

INTERPRETATION OF RESULTS

From the results, it is observed that the hardness of the specimen decreased from its
original hardness after it was heated. During the heating process, the specimen was
brought to its recrystallization state and the grains were able to grow in size, resulting in
the decreased hardness.

As the specimen was quenched and treated with the hardening compound, the hardness
increased. Coating the specimen with the hardening compound on one surface and
placing it back in the furnace helped add more carbon to the specimen in that given
location. This increased the hardness in that area. When the specimen was quenched, it
forced all of the free roaming crystals to form into a grain structure as quickly as
possible, before the recrystallization temperature was lost. This created smaller grains
which resulted in increased hardness in the specimen.
Figure 3 HRB hardness averages of specimen at different stages of the lab.

CONCLUSIONS

It can be concluded that temperature cooling times of steel can directly link their
hardness. A faster cooling time will result in increased hardness of steel, while a slower
cooling time will result in decreased hardness of steel. This is due to the rate at which the
crystals form into grains. It can also be concluded that changing the composition of the
steel can alter its hardness. By adding carbon and others alloys known for their hardness,
steel can be made harder.