Microstructure and strength in ultrastrong cold-drawn medium carbon steel

Hanchen Feng, Lei Cai, Linfeng Wang, Xiaodan Zhang*, Feng Fang*

*Corresponding author for this work

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    Via traditional wire drawing, the medium carbon ferrite-pearlite (MCFP) steel wires can achieve the ultrahigh strength beyond 4 GPa normally for high-carbon pearlitic steel wires, but have a 30-60% lower production cost. The microstructural evolution and mechanical properties of medium carbon ferrite-pearlite steel wires have been investigated by means of scanning electron microscopy, transmission electron microscopy and tensile testing. The tensile strength of medium carbon ferrite-pearlite steel wires increases from 750 MPa up to 4120 MPa when the drawing strain increases up to ε = 6.4, which represents the highest strength reported so far – to our knowledge for a carbon steel with such low carbon content. At low and medium strains (ε ≤ 1.95), the proeutectoid ferrite forms dense dislocation walls (DDWs) via dislocation activities, including sliding, accumulation, interaction, and tangling. With the drawing strain increase, the reorientation of DDWs to the drawing direction forms the coarse proeutectoid ferrite lamellae. Finally, the proeutectoid ferrite deformed to high strains is characterized by a lamellar morphology and the average lamellar spacing of proeutectoid ferrite is about 55 nm at ε = 6.4. The interlamellar spacing of pearlite and thickness of cementite decreases with the drawing strain increases. The dislocation density in ferrite lamellae increases with the drawing strain increases, and the dislocation density in ferrite lamellae is 7.8 × 1015 m−2 at ε = 4.19. A higher dislocation density of 3.1 × 1016 m−2 can be obtained at ε = 6.4 by means of extrapolation and TEM investigations. The stress contributions of proeutectoid ferrite and pearlite to the flow stress are estimated based on quantified structural parameters. Based on the assumption that the stress contributions from different strengthening mechanisms are linearly additive and the general rule of mixtures, a good agreement between the measured and estimated flow stresses has been found in a large range of flow stress. The good application of the general rule of mixture to the medium carbon ferrite-pearlite steel wires indicates the importance of quantitative characterization of microstructural evolution and parameters with the strain.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalJournal of Materials Science and Technology
    Pages (from-to)89-100
    Publication statusPublished - 2022


    • Medium Carbon Ferrite-Pearlite Steel
    • Strengthening Mechanisms
    • Microstructure
    • Mechanical Properties
    • Strength


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