42CrMo Steel Forging Stock: Analysis and Improvement of Abnormal Structure

1. Preface

42CrMo is a medium carbon alloy structural steel with good comprehensive mechanical properties, good hardenability and wide application.

It is often used in the machinery industry to manufacture gears, connecting rods, high-strength bolts and other important parts.

42CrMo Steel Forging Stock: Analysis and Improvement of Abnormal Structure 1

42CrMo steel forging stock is supplied by a steel plant.

The manufacturing process is as follows: refining outside the furnace → ingot casting → forging stock → normalizing.

A company purchased this batch of forged blanks for manufacturing the coiling shaft in the strip production rewinding unit. The final heat treatment process is quenching and tempering.

The mechanical property requirements are tensile strength 900 ~ 1100MPa, yield strength ≥ 650MPa, and impact absorption energy ≥ 40J;

During the warehousing inspection of raw materials, it was found that the macro and micro metallographic structures were abnormal, and it was preliminarily judged that the forging blank was not normalized.

In this post, the methods and possibilities of improving the quality of the forging stock are discussed and analyzed according to the physical and chemical test results by formulating several heat treatment schemes.

2. Physical and chemical test

1. Chemical composition analysis

The test material is 42CrMo steel forging stock, which is accepted according to the requirements of high-quality steel in alloy structural steel (GB / t3077-2015).

The test results are shown in Table 1 by Spectrolab spectrometer and meet the standard requirements.

Table 1 chemical composition (mass fraction) of forging stock sample

ElementStandard valueMeasured value
C0.38~0.450.45
Si0.17~0.370.26
Mn0.50~0.800.74
Cr0.90~1.201.09
Mo0.15~0.250.22
P≤0.0200.018
S≤0.0200.012

2. Metallographic examination

Carry out metallographic inspection for the raw materials in the warehouse.

After sampling according to the requirements of GB / T 13298-2015 metallic microstructure inspection method, assess the macrostructure defects and non-metallic inclusions according to GB / T 1979-2001 structural steel macrostructure defect rating diagram and GB / T 10561-2005 determination of non-metallic inclusion content in steel.

The macro morphology is shown in Fig. 1 and the microstructure is shown in Fig. 2. See Table 2 for test results.

42CrMo Steel Forging Stock: Analysis and Improvement of Abnormal Structure 2

Fig. 1 low magnification inspection of forging blank sample (1:1 industrial hydrochloric acid hot corrosion)

42CrMo Steel Forging Stock: Analysis and Improvement of Abnormal Structure 3

a) Coarse reticular ferrite

42CrMo Steel Forging Stock: Analysis and Improvement of Abnormal Structure 4

b) Part of the tissue is sorbite

42CrMo Steel Forging Stock: Analysis and Improvement of Abnormal Structure 5

c) Part of the tissue is composed of pearlite + a small amount of bainite and ferrite

42CrMo Steel Forging Stock: Analysis and Improvement of Abnormal Structure 6

d) Part of the tissue is coarse

Fig. 2 metallographic structure of forging blank sample

Table 2 metallographic test results of forging billet sampling

Test items:Detection result
Low magnification defectGenerally, the porosity is grade 1, and the dendrite on the test surface is coarse and has serious segregation
Nonmetallic inclusionA0.5,B0.5
Organization typeThe tissue distribution is extremely uneven, the tissue is coarse, and the tissue is ferrite + pearlite + reticular ferrite + a small amount of bainite

3. Mechanical property test

The forging stock shall be sampled and tested for mechanical properties according to the requirements of GB / T 2975-2018 sampling location and sample preparation for mechanical properties test of steel and steel products.

The results are shown in Table 3.

Table 3 test results of mechanical properties of forging stock

Tensile strength / MPaYield strength / MPaBody length rate after fracture (%)Impact absorption energy (KV2 / J)
98384512.010, 6.0, 6.0

4. Comparison between heat treatment scheme and physical and chemical test results

According to the physical and chemical test results, the forging billet has coarse structure, abnormal structure and poor mechanical properties, which should be due to poor forging quality and no proper normalizing treatment.

In order to study the influence of raw material structure on final heat treatment (quenching and tempering), verify the improvement degree of various heat treatment processes on raw material quality, formulate heat treatment scheme, analyze and propose improvement measures.

Now, three heat treatment processes – normalizing, quenching and tempering, normalizing + quenching and tempering are developed to test the forging stock residues.

The samples are taken from the forgings after heat treatment to test their metallographic structure and mechanical properties.

The test results are compared with the design requirements. The results are shown in Table 4.

Table 4 performance indexes and structure types after three processes

Process statusTensile strength / MPaYield strength / MPaElongation after fracture (%)Impact absorption energy (KV2 / J)Organization type
Normalizing109895912.517, 15, 18Segregation exists in the organization; The structure is sorbite + troostite + bainite
Tempering87875216.077, 87, 80There is obvious segregation in the tissue; The structure is sorbite + a small amount of ferrite
Normalizing + tempering98882816.094, 107, 110Segregation exists in the organization; The tissue is sorbite + a small amount ferrite
Design requirement900~1100≥650≥12.0≥40Sorbite, a small amount ferrite allowed

Through analysis and comparison, the strength and toughness of the normalized specimen are significantly improved, and the network ferrite in the structure disappears, as shown in Fig. 3;

42CrMo Steel Forging Stock: Analysis and Improvement of Abnormal Structure 7

Fig. 3 structure after normalizing (880 ℃ air cooling)

Although the net ferrite is eliminated in the specimen directly quenched and tempered by forging stock, the tensile strength is far lower than the technical requirements and the structure segregation is obvious, as shown in Fig. 4;

42CrMo Steel Forging Stock: Analysis and Improvement of Abnormal Structure 8

Fig. 4 Tempering (860 ℃ oil cooling and 610 ℃ air cooling)

The normalizing + quenching and tempering samples not only meet the technical requirements in all performance indicators, but also improve the uniformity of the structure, as shown in Fig. 5.

42CrMo Steel Forging Stock: Analysis and Improvement of Abnormal Structure 9

Fig. 5 normalizing + quenching and tempering (880 ° C air cooling + 860 ° C oil cooling, 610 ° C air cooling)

3. Conclusion

The abnormal structure produced in the forging stock is usually caused by the high temperature during forging, the rapid growth of the grain, and the failure to refine the grain during forging.

At the same time, the insufficient cooling rate after forging leads to the production of network ferrite, which will seriously deteriorate the mechanical properties of the material, especially the impact toughness at room temperature.

In order to prevent the generation of coarse grains, network ferrite and even widmanstatten structure, the heating temperature during forging should be strictly controlled, and the cooling rate must be reasonably controlled.

After normalizing, the microstructure can be further refined to prevent the residual of network ferrite and other structures.

The forging stock has not been normalized as required, and the metallographic inspection shall be further strengthened during the warehousing of raw materials to ensure that it meets the organization requirements under normal process.

If it is found that there are abnormal phenomena such as coarse structure, reticular ferrite or even widmanstatten structure in the original structure, normalizing treatment must be carried out before quenching.

Otherwise, the structure and properties obtained will not meet the expected requirements directly, and even the existence of reticular ferrite may cause quenching cracks during quenching, resulting in product failure during heat treatment.

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