High-Pressure Processing and Characterization of Fe–High-C/N Alloys

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A new process has been developed that results in (i) enhanced nitrogen addition to ferritic iron–carbon alloys and (ii) melt-casting in a single operation. This new processing technique enables Fe–C alloys to retain high nitrogen interstitial concentrations and to reduce significantly, and possibly eliminate, carbide formation. In this study two commercial-grade, steel alloys were cast under elevated nitrogen pressures, resulting in solid solution (austenite, ferrite, and martensite) high-carbon and high-nitrogen iron alloys that were, within detection limits, carbide- and nitride-free. These alloys were subsequently thermally processed to transform part of the retained austenite to martensite. The microstructure and mechanical properties of the alloys were studied as a function of carbon and nitrogen composition and as a function of thermal processing. The retain high nitrogen concentrations in these cast and processed iron–carbon alloys resulted in a substantial improvement in compression strengths.

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