Quenching and partitioning heat treatment: the third generation of advanced high-strength steel
Keywords:Quenching and partitioning; AHSS; Retained austenite.
This manuscript aims to present an overview of quenching and partitioning (Q&P) heat treatment usually applied to transformation-induced plasticity (TRIP) and duplex steels (DP). TRIP and DP are the first generations of advanced high-strength steels (AHSS). AHSSs present multiphase microstructures that ensure an advantageous combination of strength and ductility. The Q&P heat treatment process aims to obtain a mixed microstructure with martensite and retained austenite and improve the relation strength/ductility of common AHSS. The retained austenite of Q&P steels is rich in carbon and stable at room temperature. The heat treatment process implicates quenching the steel between the martensite-start (Ms) and martensite-finish (Mf) temperatures, followed by partitioning. Partitioning is an isothermal heat treatment that occurs above the Ms temperature. A diffusion process enriches the remaining austenite with carbon that migrates from martensite. The stability of retained austenite at room temperature improves the mechanical performance of steel, once it increases the material’s toughness and elongation. The optimal control of microstructure originates the third generation of AHSS and enables to reduce of weight and improved mechanical response of automotive parts made of the TRIP and DP steels.
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