Comparative study and quantification of cementite decomposition in heavily drawn pearlitic steel wires
Heavily cold-drawing was performed on a pearlitic steel wire and on an ultra-low carbon (ULC) steel wire in order to highlight and quantify the microstructural changes caused by this type of deformation. Both global techniques (thermoelectric power, electrical resistivity, internal fiction background) and local techniques (Atom Probe Tomography) were combined for this study. It was shown that two distinct stages have to be taken into account during the cold-drawing of pearlitic steels. The first stage (below a true strain of 1.5) was attributed mainly to the lamellar alignment, while the second stage (above a true strain of 1.5) was unambiguously interpreted as being due to a gradual enrichment of the carbon content of ferrite arising from the strain induced cementite decomposition. The carbon content in solid solution in ferrite was assessed as a function of the true strain. All the techniques showed that this carbon content exceeds the solubility limit of carbon in the ferrite above a true strain of 2.2. A correlation between the increase in the carbon content of ferrite and the increase in yield strength was also highlighted. Moreover, a scenario was proposed to explain the microstructural changes caused by drawing. (C) 2015 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.