The influence of low-strain thermo-mechanical processing on grain boundary network characteristics in type 304 austenitic stainless steel

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Abstract

Summary

Grain boundary engineering of austenitic stainless steel, through the introduction of plastic strain and thermal annealing, can be used to develop microstructures with improved resistance to inter-granular degradation. The influence of low-strain thermo-mechanical processing on grain boundary network development, with systematic variations of annealing treatments, has been investigated. Three stages of the microstructure development during grain boundary engineering in low-strain processing conditions are identified, and correlated with changes in grain boundary character and deviation distributions. Low-energy connected length segments at triple junctions, which have been proposed to be responsible for crack bridging during inter-granular stress corrosion cracking, can be influenced by the choice of the annealing treatment parameters. The development of individual grain boundary length segments of different character showed consistent trends with increasing grain size. Crack length predictions are consistent with the beneficial effect of designing microstructures with high fractions of twin grain boundaries and smaller grain size.

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