Evolution of carbon distribution and mechanical properties during the static strain ageing of heavily drawn pearlitic steel wires
The static strain ageing of heavily cold-drawn pearlitic steel wires was investigated using both global techniques and local techniques (Atom Probe Tomography (APT)), in order to highlight how the cold drawn destabilized microstructure returns to a more stable state during post-drawing treatments between 20 degrees C and 150 degrees C. The global techniques (thermoelectric power, differential scanning calorimetry) clearly showed that ageing occurs in three successive ageing stages and is due to a redistribution of the carbon atoms coming from the strain-induced cementite dissolution. The first ageing stage was unambiguously attributed to the carbon segregation to the defects, while the second and third stages were interpreted as being due to the precipitation of intermediate carbides (2nd stage) and cementite (3rd stage). The true strain was not found to significantly affect the ageing kinetics and mechanisms but appeared to play a role in the amount of carbon atoms involved in the different ageing stages. APT analyses confirmed that ageing is governed by the carbon depletion of strain-induced supersaturated ferrite. The strengthening mechanisms associated with the different ageing stages were also discussed. (C) 2016 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.