Effect of ageing on the microstructural evolution in a new design of maraging steels with carbon

Peng Gong, Bradley P. Wynne, Alexander J. Knowles, Andrej Turk, Le Ma, Enrique I. Galindo-Nava, W. Mark Rainforth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A new maraging steel, based on carbide precipitation, is described. Two alloys were designed namely Fe-10Mn-0.25C-2Cr-1Mo wt% (2CrMo) and Fe-10Mn-0.25C-1Cr-2Mo wt% (Cr2Mo). These compositions were chosen to achieve ultra-high strength and high tensile elongation; the former and latter are promoted through the simulatenous precipitation of Cr- and Mo-rich carbides and Mn-rich reverted austenite. The alloys were manufactured through the standard melting, casting and hot working route. Following a solution treatment at 870 °C and quench, which gave a fully martensitic structure, the alloys were aged for various times at 510 °C. The microstructure and tensile properties were investigated in detail as a function of ageing time. The microstructure observed was dominated by micron scale and nanometre scale Mn segregation which determined the local Ac3 temperature. Austenite reversion occurred in both alloys, peaking at 16 h in both cases. In the 2CrMo alloy, the reverted austenite was mainly globular in morphology due the Ac3 temperature being lower than the ageing temperature, but was acicular in the Cr2Mo with Ac3 similar to the ageing temperature of 510 °C. Moreover, acicular austenite was promoted by Mn segregation at martensite lath boundaries in Cr2Mo. In the 2CrMo steel, carbide precipitation (M3C and M7C3) occurred during heating to the ageing temperature, but the carbides gradually dissolved with further ageing. In contrast, in the Cr2Mo alloy, precipitation of carbides (M7C3 and M2C) occurred during ageing, the volume fraction of which increased with ageing time. In both alloys a TRIP effect was observed, but the extent of this was greater for the Cr2Mo alloy. The complex microstructure obtained after 16 h led to an excellent combination of strength of 1.3 GPa and elongation of 18%. Physics-based models for the microstructure in martensite, precipitation kinetics, as well as for TRIP in austenite were employed to explain and predict the individual strengthtening contributions of the microstructure to the total strength, confirming that the maximum strength-elongation relationship found after 16 h is due to an optimal combination of a slightly overaged - but still strong- martensite and 30% of reverted austenite, for increased work hardening and ductility.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-121
Number of pages21
JournalActa Materialia
Early online date23 Jun 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2020


  • medium Mn steel
  • austenite reversion
  • carbide precipitation
  • TRIP
  • Mn segregation/partioning


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