Date

2016

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

Master of Science

Department

Materials Science and Engineering

First Adviser

DuPont, John

Abstract

United States naval applications require the use of steels with high strength and resistance to fracture at low temperatures to provide good ballistic properties. In recent years, 10 wt% Ni steel has been developed with strength and toughness values exceeding those of steels currently used, and is now being considered as a candidate material to replace existing high-strength, low alloy steels. This steel has excellent toughness from the mechanically induced transformation of interlath austenite films to martensite. These austenite films are formed via a carefully developed quenching, lamellarizing, and tempering heat treatment. However, before 10 wt% Ni steel can be implemented for full-scale applications, the effects of the rapid heating and cooling rates associated with welding thermal cycles on phase transformations and mechanical properties must be understood. In this research, a fundamental understanding of phase transformations and mechanical properties in the heat-affected zone of fusion welds in 10 wt% Ni steel was developed through heating and cooling rate dilatometry experiments, gas tungsten arc welding, and simulation of gas metal arc welding. First, an investigation into the effects of heating and cooling rate on the phase transformations in 10 wt% Ni steel was performed. The Ac1 and Ac3 temperatures during heating were determined as a function of heating rate, and sluggish transformation during fast heating rates manifested itself as a high Ac3 temperature of 1050°C as opposed to a temperature of 850°C at slow heating rates. A continuous cooling transformation diagram produced for 10 wt% Ni steel reveals that martensite will form over a very wide range of cooling rates, which reflects a very high hardenability of this alloy. This is significant because the range of cooling rates for which the diagram was constructed over easily covers the range associated with fusion welding, so there would not be the need for precise control over the weld processing conditions. The microstructures observed in a single pass gas tungsten arc weld were rationalized with the observations from the heating and cooling rate experiments. The microhardness of gas tungsten arc weld is highest in the intercritical heat affected zone, which is unexpected based on the usual behavior of quench and tempered steels. The hardness of the heat affected zone is always higher than the base metal which is a promising outcome.Having understood the overall effects of heating and cooling on the phase transformations in 10 wt% Ni steel, the microstructure and mechanical property evolution through the heat affected zone was investigated. A Gleeble 3500 thermo-mechanical simulator was used to replicate microstructures observed in the gas-tungsten arc weld, and the microstructural factors influencing the strength and toughness in the simulated heat affected zone samples were correlated to mechanical property results. The strength is the highest in the intercritical heat-affected zone, mostly attributed to microstructural refinement. With increasing peak temperature of the thermal cycle, the volume fraction of retained austenite decreases. The local atom probe tomography results suggest this is due to the destabilization of the austenite brought on by the diffusion of Ni out of the austenite. There is a local low toughness region in the intercritical heat-affected zone, corresponding to a low retained austenite content. However, the retained austenite is similarly low in higher peak temperature regions but the toughness is high. This suggests that while 10 wt% Ni steel is a TRIP-assisted steel and thus obtains high toughness from the plasticity-induced martensite to austenite transformation, the toughness of the steel is also based on other microstructural factors. Overall, the results presented in this work have established, for the first time, the effects of rapid heating and cooling on the phase transformations and mechanical properties in 10 wt% Ni steel, and have started to identify the microstructural features influencing the strength and toughness of this alloy.

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