Effect of tempering on hardness of Q&T steel plate

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Colleges, School and Institutes


Commercial production of high strength steel plates by the quenching and tempering (Q&T) route requires control of alloy design and heat treatment parameters to achieve the desired strength and toughness through thickness. Plates with different thicknesses (up to approximately 100 mm) are produced for applications in the energy and power or lifting and excavation sectors. For thick plate the difference in cooling rate through thickness affects the as-quenched microstructure with martensite, auto-tempered martensite and lower and/or upper bainite being present. The different as-quenched microstructures can show a different response to tempering which affects the final strength and toughness.In this study the starting microstructure of a low alloy 0.17 wt% C Q&T steel has been varied using isothermal heat treatment at 430 °C to create mixed martensite and lower bainite microstructures (nominally 25:75; 50:50 and 75:25 percentages). The effects of tempering at 600 °C for times between 0.5 and 16 hours on the carbide precipitates and hardness of the mixed microstructures have been investigated and compared to the tempering response of single phase (martensite and lower bainite) microstructures. It has been found that the hardness decrease due to tempering is larger in the martensitic structure than the bainitic structure due to more rapid carbide coarsening. The as-quenched hardness of the mixed microstructures can be predicted by a rule of mixtures using the single phase properties. The tempering response of the mixed microstructures is discussed.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)311-316
Number of pages6
JournalMaterials Science Forum
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2018
EventTHERMEC'2018 International Conference on PROCESSING & MANUFACTURING OF ADVANCED MATERIALS Processing, Fabrication, Properties, Applications - Paris, France
Duration: 8 Jul 201813 Jul 2018


  • Q&T steel, tempering, martensite, bainite