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J. Mater. Sci. Technol., Vol.23

No.1, 2007

97

Effects of Alloying Elements on the Microstructures and Mechanical Properties of Heavy Section Ductile Cast Iron

G.S.Cho 1) , K.H.Choe 1) , K.W.Lee 1) and A.Ikenaga 2)

1) Advanced Material Processing Team, Korea Institute of Industrial Technology, 994-32, Dongchun-Dong, Yeonsu-Ku, Incheon 406-130, South Korea 2) Department of Metallurgy and Materials Science, Graduate School of Engineering, Osaka Prefecture University, 1-1, Gakuen-Cho, Sakai, Osaka 599-8531, Japan

[Manuscript received February 17, 2006, in revised form May 29, 2006]

The effects of alloying elements on the as-cast microstructures and mechanical properties of heavy section ductile cast iron were investigated to develop press die material having high strength and high ductility. Measurements of ultimate tensile strength, 0.2% proof strength, elongation and unnotched Charpy impact energy are presented as a function of alloy amounts within 0.25 to 0.75 wt pct range. Hardness is measured on the broken tensile specimens. The small additions of Mo, Cu, Ni and Cr changed the as-cast mechanical properties owing to the different as-cast matrix microstructures. The ferrite matrix of Mo and Ni alloyed cast iron exhibits low strength and hardness as well as high elongation and impact energy. The increase in Mo and Ni contents developed some fractions of pearlite structures near the austenite eutectic cell boundaries, which caused the elongation and impact energy to drop in a small range. Adding Cu and Cr elements rapidly changed the ferrite matrix into pearlite matrix, so strength and hardness were significantly increased. As more Mo and Cr were added, the size and fraction of primary carbides in the eutectic cell boundaries increased through the segregation of these elements into the intercellular boundaries.

KEY WORDS: Heavy section ductile cast iron; Alloying elements; As-cast microstructures; As-cast mechanical properties

1. Introduction

Ductile cast iron exhibits good ductility and toughness because the graphite morphology is spher- ical. It has been reported that the strengthening and toughening of ductile cast iron result from the modification of the matrix structure when alloying elements [1] are added or heat treatment [2] is applied. The austempered ductile cast irons have been studied to replace the forged or cast steel in the structural parts, because they have many advantages such as high strength and toughness, high machinability and good corrosion resistance [36] . Recently, the heavy section drawing dies in pressing steel sheet for the automobile frame or panel are replaced by simple one body-type as-cast ductile cast iron, which yields low cost and shortened delivering time on producing press dies. The casting die is generally produced via a full mold process that uses the near-net shaped ex- panded polystyrene pattern replaced by the molten metal [7] . As-cast ductile cast iron should meet the re- quirements of material properties to be used in cold pressing dies including high strength and high ductil- ity, but both mechanical properties are very difficult to obtain within the same casting material. Thus, the amounts of alloying elements are controlled to achieve as-cast heavy section ductile cast having high strength and ductility. The purpose of this paper is to obtain experimental data for optimum alloy design of heavy section ductile cast irons and to present the effects of alloying elements on the as-cast microstructures and mechanical properties for using cold press die mate- rial.

Ph.D., to whom correspondence should be addressed, E-mail: gscho@kitech.re.kr.

2. Experimental

The chemical compositions of ductile cast irons used for this work are presented in Table 1. The main difference lies on the Mo, Cu, Ni and Cr al- loy contents. The nominal compositions of alloy- ing element additions are given as 0.25, 0.5 and 0.75 wt pct. The results are presented in terms of the nominal additions for convenience in discus- sion. The ductile irons were obtained by melting steel scrap, pig iron, graphite, Fe-75 wt pct Mn and Fe-75 wt pct Si in the high frequency induction fur- nace. Spheroidizing and inoculation practices were performed in a conventional sandwich method with 5.8 wt pct Mg-Fe-Si and 75 wt pct Si-Fe alloy, respec- tively. The metal was poured into furan resin molding sand molds to obtain Y-shaped 75 mm blocks. Ten- sile specimens with the dimensions shown in Fig.1 and

blocks. Ten- sile specimens with the dimensions shown in Fig.1 and Fig.1 Y-shaped block and tensile

Fig.1 Y-shaped block and tensile specimen dimensions

98

Table 1

J. Mater. Sci. Technol., Vol.23

No.1, 2007

Chemical compositions of ductile cast iron (wt pct)

Melt

C

Si

Mn

P

S

Mo

Cu

Ni

Cr

Mg

A 3.61

2.36

0.28

0.04

0.01

0.06

B 3.57

2.37

0.28

0.04

0.01

0.19/0.38/0.58

0.06

C 3.60

2.40

0.28

0.04

0.01

0.24/0.47/0.70

-

-

0.06

D 3.64

2.35

0.30

0.04

0.01

0.24/0.48/0.70

0.06

E 3.66

2.31

0.33

0.04

0.01

0.26/0.49

0.06

Table 2

Typical characteristics of spherical graphite in ductile cast iron

Melt

Area fraction/%

Nodule count/(N·mm 2 )

Nodularity/(%)

Ave. diameter/µm

A 10.2

141.0

90.4

30.3

B 13.1

153.3

88.5

33.0

C 13.0

154.6

87.5

32.8

D 12.2

152.6

87.3

31.8

E 11.4

148.0

86.0

31.5

152.6 87.3 31.8 E 11.4 148.0 86.0 31.5 Fig.2 As-cast microstructure of melt A as a

Fig.2

As-cast microstructure of melt A as a reference casting

unnotched Charpy specimens (55 mm×10 mm×10 mm) were machined from the bottom section of the Y- blocks. Tensile specimens were taken from the bottom section of Y-blocks in order to minimize casting de- fects such as microporosity. Three tensile specimens were tested in a 250 kN hydraulic Instron universal testing machine using a constant cross-head travel speed of 4 mm/min. Unnotched Charpy specimens were tested in a standard impact testing machine. Hardness measurements were made on a standard Brinell hardness machine with a load of 3000 kg and 10 mm steel ball. Metallographic specimens were obtained from broken impact samples.

3. Results and Discussion

3.1 As-cast microstructures of ductile cast iron Figure 2 shows the as-cast microstructure of melt A as a reference cast iron given in Table 1. The mi- crographs show that the matrix structure is fully fer- rite structure with a small fraction of pearlite near the eutectic cell boundaries. The ferrite structures are selected to serve as a base material by minimiz- ing Mn content in 75 mm heavy section Y-block. The spheroidal graphite nodules are well distributed within the ferrite matrix. Two types of graphite in size are observed microscopically, because of the slight hypereutectic chemical composition of the reference cast iron. The bigger graphites, about 50 µm in diam- eter, are crystallized at the graphite+liquid region in the Fe-C system. The smaller ones, under 50 µm, are

formed through eutectic solidification range. Image analysis of volume fraction, nodule count, nodular- ity and average diameter of graphite on the different alloyed ductile cast irons are given in Table 2. The characteristic values of graphites in the alloyed irons are very similar to that of reference cast iron. Figure 3 shows the as-cast microstructures of Mo alloyed cast iron. The Mo alloyed ductile cast iron of melt B exhibits substantial ferrite in the as-cast structure with some pearlite at intercellular regions. As more Mo is added, the matrix becomes fully fer- rite and the area fraction of pearlite structure in the eutectic cell boundaries is slightly increased. The Ni alloyed ductile cast iron of melt D also has a mostly ferrite matrix having some pearlite structures in the cell boundaries. Adding up to 0.75 wt pct of Mo and Ni elements results in the same tendency on the for- mation of a ferrite matrix. The addition of Mo and Ni alloy will increase the hardenability of ductile cast iron by delaying the transformation of austenite to ferrite [8,9] . Also, the hardness of the ferrite matrix increased from about 169 HV to about 188 HV when more Mo was added. The Ni alloyed ductile cast iron also exhibited an increase in matrix hardness. This means that the addition of Mo and Ni strengthens the ferrite matrix via solid solution hardening. Figure 4 shows microstructures of the as-cast melt

C

ductile cast iron. As more Cu is added, the amount

of

ferrite structure is significantly decreased with Cu

content. For the melt C containing 0.5 wt pct Cu and

more, the matrix was abruptly changed into pearlite

J. Mater. Sci. Technol., Vol.23

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J. Mater. Sci. Technol., Vol.23 No.1, 2007 99 Fig.3 Microstructures of the as-cast melt B ductile

Fig.3

Microstructures of the as-cast melt B ductile cast iron with different Mo contents: (a) 0.25 wt pct Mo,

(b) 0.5 wt pct Mo, (c) 0.75 wt pct Mo

(a) 0.25 wt pct Mo, (b) 0.5 wt pct Mo, (c) 0.75 wt pct Mo Fig.4
Fig.4 Microstructures of the as-cast melt C ductile cast iron with different Cu contents: (a)
Fig.4
Microstructures of the as-cast melt C ductile cast iron with different Cu contents: (a) 0.25 wt pct Cu,
(b)
0.5 wt pct Cu, (c) 0.75 wt pct Cu
Fig.5
Microstructures of the as-cast ductile cast irons with different alloying elements:
(a) 0.75
wt pct Mo

(b) 0.75 wt pct Cu, (c) 0.75 wt pct Ni, (d) 0.5 wt pct Cr

with a bull s-eye ferrite rim around the nodules. Fig- ure 4 presents the ability of Cu to hinder the diffu- sion of carbon into graphite at the graphite-austenite interface during the solid state transformation after solidification. The Cu will increase as-cast strength and hardness through increased pearlite formation [8] . Figure 5 shows the as-cast microstructures of duc- tile cast iron with different alloying elements. While

the 0.75 wt pct Mo and 0.75 wt pct Ni alloyed ductile cast irons exhibit a full ferrite matrix, the 0.75 wt pct Cu and 0.5 wt pct Cr added ductile cast irons ex- hibit a bull s-eye structure within the pearlite matrix. Carbide-like phases are observed in the middle of the eutectic cell boundaries of the 0.75 wt pct Mo and 0.5 wt pct Cr alloyed ductile cast iron. These phases are not observed at the intercellular regions of

100

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100 J. Mater. Sci. Technol., Vol.23 No.1, 2007 Fig.6 EDX line scan profiles measured on as-cast

Fig.6

EDX line scan profiles measured on as-cast ductile cast irons: (a) 0.75 wt pct Mo, (b) 0.5 wt pct Cr

Fig.7

cast irons: (a) 0.75 wt pct Mo, (b) 0.5 wt pct Cr Fig.7 Variation in tensile
cast irons: (a) 0.75 wt pct Mo, (b) 0.5 wt pct Cr Fig.7 Variation in tensile

Variation in tensile strength and elongation of as-cast ductile cast irons having different alloying contents:

(a) tensile strength, (b) elongation

0.25 wt pct Mo and 0.25 wt pct Cr alloyed ductile cast iron. Figure 6 presents the EDX line scan profiles measured on the as-cast ductile cast irons. Figure 6(a) shows the sharp increase in Mo peak at the eutectic cell boundary. This means that the segregation of Mo during solidification forms Mo-rich carbides in the cell boundaries [10 ¯ 12] . Figure 6(b) shows the segregated Cr-rich phase in the as-cast ductile cast iron. Mn was positively segregated in the cell boundaries but Si was negatively segregated [13] . The increased Mo and Mn levels in the intercellular boundary in the alloyed iron attributed to segregation caused considerable pearlite formation near the cell boundaries. Carbide forma- tion will deteriorate the ductility of as-cast ductile cast iron [14,15] . Thus, the amount of Mo and Cr addi- tions should be limited to a certain level considering the thickness of castings.

3.2 Mechanical properties of as-cast ductile cast iron Figure 7 shows the variation in tensile strength and elongation of as-cast ductile cast iron having dif- ferent alloying contents. The trends in terms of tensile properties of Ni added ductile cast iron resemble that of Mo added ductile iron. With the increase in the amount of Mo and Ni additions, tensile strength is slightly increased while elongation is decreased. The strength of Mo and Ni alloyed ductile cast iron is mainly dependent on the solid solution hardening of ferrite matrix. It was also considered that the de- crease in elongation was caused by the increase in pearlite formation in the cell boundaries. As more Cu element is added, tensile strength is steeply increased. The tensile strength of 0.5 wt pct Cu added ductile cast iron approaches at a maximum of 700 MPa, but elongation quickly decreases below 5%. The trends in terms of tensile properties of Cr added ductile iron

resemble that of Cu added ductile cast iron. Addi- tion of up to 0.5 wt pct Cr could not reach a maxi- mum of 700 MPa because of the formation of a large bull s-eye ferrite structure. It is confirmed that the tensile strength of as-cast ductile cast iron is strongly dependent on the area fraction of pearlite, while elon- gation is inversely proportional to the pearlite frac- tion in the as-cast microstructure [16 ¯ 18] . Figure 8 presents the SEM micrographs of the fractured sur- face of tensile specimens for comparing two typical fracture modes. Figure 8(a) shows the brittle fracture surface of 0.75 wt pct Cu alloyed iron having pearlite matrix with cleavage river patterns. The ductile frac- ture surface of 0.75 wt pct Ni alloyed iron is shown in Fig.8(b). Plastic deformation of ferrite around the boundary of graphite nodule is observed. Some cleav- age brittle fracture area having a pearlite phase near the intercellular region is also shown. Figure 9 shows the variation in hardness and im- pact energy with different alloying additions. As more alloying contents are added, the Brinell hardness of Mo and Ni alloyed ductile cast iron is linearly in- creased, but that of Cu and Cr alloyed ductile cast iron increased very steeply. The Brinell hardness of ductile cast iron refers to the resistance of the matrix and graphite to plastic deformation. The variation in hardness with the alloying element is strongly de- termined by the as-cast microstructures. Generally, the hardness of cast iron is increased by the volume fraction of pearlite structure [19,20] . In this study, the addition of Mo and Ni slightly increased the matrix hardness via solid solution hardening. As more Cu and Cr element is added, the hardness increased sig- nificantly owing to the high fraction of pearlite. The Charpy impact energy of Mo and Ni alloyed iron is gradually decreased, but that of the Cu and Cr

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J. Mater. Sci. Technol., Vol.23 No.1, 2007 101 Fig.8 SEM micrographs showing the fractured surface of
Fig.8 SEM micrographs showing the fractured surface of tensile specimens: (a) 0.75 wt pct Cu,
Fig.8
SEM micrographs showing the fractured surface of tensile specimens: (a) 0.75 wt pct Cu, (b) 0.75 wt pct Ni
Fig.9
Variation in hardness and impact energy of as-cast ductile cast irons having different alloying contents:

(a) Brinell hardness, (b) Charpy impact energy

alloyed iron begins to decrease fast. This indicates that ferrite matrix provides highly ductile cast iron while pearlite yields highly strong cast iron. Mo was found to reportedly segregate at cell boundaries and aggravate the toughness of ductile cast iron [21] . How- ever, the toughness of ductile cast iron was more de- pendent on the area fraction of ferrite than the area fraction of intercellular carbide-like phases.

4. Conclusions

(1) The as-cast microstructures are strongly de- pendent on the alloying elements. The ferrite matrix is mostly formed as Mo and Ni elements are added. The addition of Cu and Cr rapidly changed the ferrite into pearlite matrix. (2) The Mo and Cr element are segregated at the eutectic cell boundaries and caused the formation of carbide-like phases. Therefore, the amount of Mo and Cr added should be controlled considering the thick- ness of castings. (3) The ferrite matrix of Mo and Ni alloyed duc- tile cast iron exhibited low strength and low hardness but high elongation and high impact energy. The me- chanical properties of pearlite cast iron alloyed with Cu and Cr element were the exact opposite of those of ferrite cast iron. (4) Ferrite matrix provides highly ductile cast iron while pearlite provides highly strong cast iron. The toughness of ductile cast iron was more dependent on the area fraction of ferrite than the area fraction of intercellular carbide-like phases.

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