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Materials Transactions, Vol. 44, No. 10 (2003) pp.

2184 to 2190
#2003 The Japan Institute of Metals
EXPRESS REGULAR ARTICLE

Magnetic Evaluation of Microstructures and Strength of Eutectoid Steel


Jai Won Byeon1 and Sook In Kwun2
1
2

Research Institute of Engineering and Technology, Korea University, Seoul, 136-701, Korea
Division of Materials Science and Engineering, Korea University, Seoul, 136-701, Korea

Microstructures and strength of variously heat treated eutectoid steel were evaluated by magnetic property measurements. Isothermal
transformation, continuous cooling or spheroidization heat treatment was performed to produce various microstructures. Microstructural
parameters (phase, pearlite interlamellar spacing), mechanical properties (fracture strength) and magnetic parameters (coercivity, remanence,
hysteresis loss, saturation magnetization) were measured to investigate the relationships among these parameters. Coercivity and remanence
were observed to be high in order of martensite, pearlite and ferrite phase. The linear decrease of coercivity and remanence with the interlamellar
spacing and the linear increase of those with fracture strength of pearlitic eutectoid steel were found. Coercivity and remanence were suggested
as potential magnetic parameters for discriminating phases and quantitatively assessing the pearlite interlamellar spacing as well as strength of
eutectoid steel.
(Received July 14, 2003; Accepted August 26, 2003)
Keywords: eutectoid steel, pearlite interlamellar spacing, microstructure, magnetic parameter, nondestructive evaluation

1.

Introduction

It is very important for steel industries to reduce


production costs and to produce high quality materials.
Recently, the automation of production process and the strict
quality control are required to obtain reproducible microstructures and dependable mechanical properties of steel
products. Usual microstructure evaluations of nal products
have been performed in a destructive way by cutting,
polishing and using microscopical observation, which is
time-consuming, laborious and selective. There are increasing needs to introduce nondestructive evaluation techniques
for better time saving and economic quality control of steel
products.114)
Magnetic,18) Barkhausen noise,912) ultrasonic13) and
electrical resistivity14) methods have been applied to evaluate
material properties nondestructively. Magnetic method, by
which correlations between material properties and magnetic
parameters such as coercivity, remanence, hysteresis loss and
saturation magnetization can be obtained, is applicable to
various kinds of ferromagnetic steels. Jiles4) has investigated
the eects of microstructure and carbon content on magnetic
properties of plain carbon steel and reported that grain size is
not the dominant factor to determine magnetic properties
once the carbon content increases beyond 0.2 mass%.
Altpeter11) has reported the increase of coercivity with
increasing cementite volume fraction depending on the
amount of carbon in his research on nondestructive evaluation of cementite content in steel and cast iron by coercivity
and Barkhausen noise. Although the previous researchers
have reported the eects of grain size,1,4) carbon content,4,11)
applied stress1,7) and plastic deformation5,6,15) on magnetic
properties in steels, the quantitative correlation among
magnetic parameters, microstructure and strength is still
lacking.
Eutectoid steel can have martensite, pearlite or ferrite
phase depending on specic heat treatment condition.
Pearlitic eutectoid steel is used for wheels and railway
requiring good strength and wear resistance. Mechanical

properties of pearlitic steels are known to depend strongly on


the interlamellar spacing of pearlite.1618) Various heat
treatment processes have been applied to obtain desirable
pearlite interlamellar spacing and mechanical strength of
steels. In this research, an attempt was made to obtain the
quantitative correlations among microstructure, strength and
magnetic properties of variously heat treated eutectoid steel.
Eutectoid steel was isothermally transformed, continuously
cooled or spheroidized to produce a wide range of microstructures. Microstructural parameters (phase, pearlite interlamellar spacing), strength and magnetic parameters (coercivity, remanence, hysteresis loss, saturation magnetization)
were measured to investigate the relationships among them.
2.

Experimental Procedures

2.1 Material and heat treatment


A commercial 25 mm thick plate specimen with the
chemical composition of C: 0.855, Si: 0.21, Mn: 0.51, P:
0.01, S: 0.006 in mass% was used for this study. Isothermal
transformation, continuous cooling or spheroidization heat
treatment was performed to prepare the specimens with
dierent phases (martensite, pearlite, ferrite) and with
dierent pearlite interlamellar spacings as summarized in
Table 1. Martensite phase was produced by water quenching.
Isothermal transformation or continuous cooling (air and
furnace cooling) heat treatment was performed to produce
pearlite with various lamellar spacings. And then some of
these specimens were spheroidization heat treated at 973 K
for 150 h,2) which was sucient to fully spheroidize
cementites, to produce ferrite phase. Dierent austenitizing
temperatures at 1123 K, 1223 K, 1323 K and 1423 K were
denoted as A, B, C and D, respectively. Subsequent
isothermal transformation temperatures at 873 K, 923 K and
973 K were denoted as 1, 2 and 3, respectively. Water
quenching, air cooling and furnace cooling after heat
treatments were denoted as WQ, air and fur, respectively.
The letters, sph, mean spheroidization heat treatment in
Table 1.

Magnetic Evaluation of Microstructures and Strength of Eutectoid Steel


Table 1

2185

Conditions for various heat treatment processes.


Cooling mode or

Sample

Austenitizing

Holding

group

temperature

time

(K)

(min)

A-WQ

1123

240

water quenching

B-WQ

1223

15

water quenching

C-WQ

1323

15

water quenching

D-WQ

1423

15

water quenching

A-air

1123

240

air cooling

A-fur

1123

240

furnace cooling

B
C-air

1223
1323

15
15

963
air cooling

10
-

C-fur

1323

15

furnace cooling

C-1

1323

15

873

10

C-2

1323

15

923

10

C-3

1323

15

973

10

1423

15

883

10

isothermal
transformation
temperature (K)

Holding
time
(min)

Spheroidization
heat treatment

A-air-sph

1123

240

air cooling

973 K/150 h

A-fur-sph
B-sph

1123
1223

240
15

furnace cooling
963

10

973 K/150 h
973 K/150 h

C-air-sph

1323

15

air cooling

973 K/150 h

C-fur-sph

1323

15

furnace cooling

973 K/150 h

C-1-sph

1323

15

873

10

973 K/150 h

C-2-sph

1323

15

923

10

973 K/150 h

C-3-sph

1323

15

973

10

973 K/150 h

D-sph

1423

15

883

10

973 K/150h

Microstructural analysis and magnetic property


measurements
Both the lamellar cementites in pearlite and the globular
ones dispersed in ferrite matrix were observed using a
scanning electron microscope after chemical etching in 5%
Picral solution. The martensite phase of water quenched
specimens was observed using an optical microscope after
chemical etching in 3% Nital solution.
The average minimum interlamellar spacing was obtained
using the Underwood method,19) by which true interlamellar
spacing could be measured. Tensile test was performed to
obtain a stress-strain curve using the ASTM subsize specimen under the constant initial strain rate of 1  104 s1 ,
from which the fracture strength was determined.
The magnetic hysteresis curves were obtained from a
cylindrical sample ( 3.5 mm  7 mm) using a vibrating
sample magnetometer (VSM), from which magnetic coercivity, remanence, hysteresis loss and saturation magnetization were determined. Hysteresis curves were obtained
ve times for each specimen, and error ranges were under
0.02 kAm1 and 104 T (tesla) for coercivity and remanence,
respectively.

ferrite phase of spheroidized specimen (j). Figure 1(k) is an


optical micrograph showing martensite phase of water
quenched specimen. Quantitative results of microstructural
parameters, fracture strength and magnetic parameters were
summarized in Table 2, in which M, P and F mean
martensite, pearlite and ferrite, respectively.
Both specimens isothermally transformed and continuously cooled had pearlite with dierent interlamellar spacing
ranging from 0.102 to 0.213 mm. Pearlite interlamellar
spacing increased with increasing isothermal transformation
temperature (C-1, C-2, C-3) or with slowing cooling rate (Aair, A-fur/C-air, C-fur). All the spheroidization heat treated
specimens consisted of ferrite matrix with globular cementite
particles, although the distributions of cementites diered
slightly from one specimen to another. All the water
quenched specimens had martensite. The fracture strength
shown in Table 2 decreased linearly with interlamellar
spacing of pearlitic steel. It is well known that the strength of
pearlitic steel is mainly dependant on the interlamellar
spacing, and that it is insensitive to the size of austenite grain
or pearlite nodule,17,18) which agrees well with present
results.

3.

3.2

2.2

3.1

Results and Discussion

Change of microstructures and mechanical properties with various heat treatments


Typical scanning electron micrographs in Fig. 1 show
various pearlite lamellar structures of isothermally transformed or continuously cooled specimens ((a) to (i)) and

Change of magnetic properties with heat treatment


conditions
Figure 2(a) shows the change of coercivity with heat
treatment conditions. Water quenched specimens
(2:70  2:75 kAm1 ) had much higher coercivity than
isothermally transformed or continuously cooled ones
(1:63  1:88 kAm1 ). Spheroidized specimens had the low-

2186

J. W. Byeon and S. I. Kwun

(a) A-air

(b) A-fur

5m

(c) B

5m

(d) C-1

5m

(e) C-2

5m

(f) C-3

5m

5m

(g) C-air

(h) C-fur

5m

(i) D

5m

(j) C-1-sph

5m

20m

(k) C-WQ

100m
Fig. 1 Typical scanning electron micrographs of dierently heat treated specimens showing various pearlite lamellar structures ((a) to (i))
and ferrite phase of spheroidized specimen (j), and optical micrograph showing martensite phase of water quenched specimen (k).

Magnetic Evaluation of Microstructures and Strength of Eutectoid Steel


Table 2

Quantitative results of microstructural parameters, fracture strength and magnetic properties of dierently heat treated eutectoid steel.
Magnetic property

Sample
group

2187

Hc
(kAm1 )

Microstructure

Mechanical
property

Mr
(103 T)

HL
(kJm3 )

Ms
(T)

Phase/
S (mm)

FS
(MPa)

A-WQ

2.70

8.69

20.80

1.97

B-WQ

2.75

9.01

22.06

1.96

C-WQ

2.72

8.68

21.20

1.96

D-WQ

2.72

8.86

21.67

1.96

A-air
A-fur

1.88
1.71

6.12
5.47

17.82
15.94

1.95
1.94

P/0.102
P/0.160

978
827

1.83

5.91

18.68

1.95

P/0.117

938

C-air

1.79

5.87

18.29

1.95

P/0.132

890

C-fur

1.63

5.16

13.82

1.95

P/0.213

742

C-1

1.78

5.77

16.49

1.96

P/0.145

914

C-2

1.70

5.58

16.17

1.96

P/0.162

893

C-3

1.69

5.37

14.21

1.96

P/0.191

836

D
A-air-sph

1.77
1.52

5.77
4.89

14.37
14.92

1.96
1.92

P/0.140
F

878
-

A-fur-sph

1.50

4.80

14.76

1.91

B-sph

1.50

4.69

14.84

1.91

C-air-sph

1.47

4.67

14.68

1.95

C-fur-sph

1.45

4.58

15.78

1.96

C-1-sph

1.45

4.63

14.44

1.92

C-2-sph

1.49

4.64

15.70

1.93

C-3-sph
D-sph

1.49
1.46

4.55
4.58

15.07
16.09

1.92
1.95

F
F

Hc : coercivity, Mr : remanence, HL : hysteresis loss, Ms : saturation magnetization, S: pearlite interlamellar spacing, FS: fracture strength

est coercivity (1:45  1:52 kAm1 ). Water quenched, isothermally transformed or continuously cooled and spheroidized specimens had martensite, pearlite and ferrite phases,
respectively, as noted in Table 2. Therefore, the result shown
in Fig. 2(a) means that the coercivity is high in order of
martensite, pearlite and ferrite phase.
Coercivity is the additional magnetic eld required to
move the magnetic domain walls pinned, and the degree of
hindrance to wall motion determines the magnitude of
magnetic coercivity.20) It is known that residual stress eld or
microstructural defects such as precipitates, inclusions, grain
boundaries and dislocations in materials can hinder magnetic
domain wall movement and thus increase coercivity.21)
According to the results of the studies on the relation
between grain size and magnetic properties, the grain size
aects the magnetic properties in ultra low carbon steels
(Sakamoto et al.,12) Yamaura et al.,22) Gatelier-Rother et
al.23) and Tiitto24)). On the other hand, it aects the magnetic
properties little in steels containing more than 0.2 mass% of
carbon (Kwun and Burkhardt,1) Jiles4) and Nakai et al.9))
because large amount of carbide particles play a more
dominant role than grain boundaries in determining the
magnetic properties. Therefore, the dierence in grain size
between variously heat treated specimens in 0.85 mass%
carbon eutectoid steel used in this investigation can be
assumed to have little eect on the measured magnetic
properties.
Typical martensite phase of eutectoid steel consists of laths
and plates, in which the dislocation density is very high, to

the order of 1016 /m2 .25) The dislocations give rise to stress
eld around the dislocation lines, by which magnetic
domains are pinned.26) In this respect, the high coercivity in
martensite phase is thought to result mainly from the stress
eld due to dislocations in martensite laths and plates.
Supersaturated interstitial carbon atoms, which bring about
lattice stain, also might be a cause of domain pinning and
hence high coercivity. Even though it is not clear which
boundaries (lath boundary, block boundary, packet boundary) pin domain wall, considering the Moorthy et al.s
report27) that the lath boundaries pin domain wall in quenched
and tempered 0.2 mass% carbon steel, very ne subboundaries inside martensite phase could also pin domain wall to
some extent.
Coercivity of spheroidized specimens consisting of ferrite
matrix with globular cementite particles seems to arise
mainly from the pinning of domain walls to cementite
particles. In our previous research2) on the eect of
spheroidization heat treatment time on the magnetic properties of 0.45 mass% carbon steel, little change was observed in
coercivity despite of the change of the distribution or the
degree of spheroidization of fragmented cementite particles.
Therefore, the slight dierence in the distribution of
cementites can be assumed to have little eect on the
measured coercivity. On the other hand, considering that
pearlitic specimens have higher coercivity than ferritic
(spheroidized) ones, lamellar cementites seem to pin the
domain walls more strongly than globular ones.
Figure 2(b) shows the change of remanence with heat

2188

J. W. Byeon and S. I. Kwun

25

(a)

martensite
pearlite
ferrite

2.5

2.0

1.5

1.0

0.5

Hysteresis Loss, HL / kJm-3

0.0

(c)

15

10

A
-W
B Q
-W
C Q
-W
D Q
-W
A Q
-a
A ir
-fu
r
C B
-a
C ir
-fu
r
C
-1
C
-2
C
-3
A
-a D
A ir-s
-fu p
r-s h
p
C B-s h
-a p
C ir-s h
-fu p
r h
C -sp
-1 h
C -sp
-2 h
C -sp
-3 h
-s
D ph
-s
ph

C B
-a
C ir
-fu
r
C
-1
C
-2
C
-3
A
-a
A ir-s D
-fu p
r-s h
p
C B-s h
-a p
i
r
C -s h
-fu p
r h
C -sp
-1 h
C -sp
-2 h
C -sp
-3 h
-s
D ph
-s
ph

A
-W
B Q
-W
C Q
-W
D Q
-W
A Q
-a
A ir
-fu
r

Heat Treatment Condition

Heat Treatment Condition


3.0

(b)

martensite
pearlite
ferrite

Saturation Magnetization, Ms / T

Remanence, Mr / 10-3 T

10

martensite
pearlite
ferrite

20

(d)

martensite
pearlite
ferrite

2.5

2.0

1.5

1.0

0.5

A
-W
B Q
-W
C Q
-W
D Q
-W
A Q
-a
A ir
-fu
r

C B
-a
C ir
-fu
r
C
-1
C
-2
C
-3
A
-a
A ir-s D
-fu p
r-s h
p
C B-s h
-a p
i
r
C -s h
-fu p
r h
C -sp
-1 h
C -sp
-2 h
C -sp
-3 h
-s
D ph
-s
ph

A
-W
B Q
-W
C Q
-W
D Q
-W
A Q
-a
A ir
-fu
r

0.0

Heat Treatment Condition

C B
-a
C ir
-fu
r
C
-1
C
-2
C
-3
A
-a
A ir-s D
-fu p
r-s h
p
C B-s h
-a p
C ir-s h
-fu p
r h
C -sp
-1 h
C -sp
-2 h
C -sp
-3 h
-s
D ph
-s
ph

Coercivity, Hc / kAm-1

3.0

Heat Treatment Condition

Fig. 2 Change of magnetic properties with heat treatment conditions: (a) coercivity, (b) remanence, (c) hysteresis loss and (d) saturation
magnetization.

treatment conditions. Water quenched specimens (8:68 


103  9:01  103 T) had much higher remanence than
isothermally transformed or continuously cooled ones
(5:16  103  6:12  103 T). Spheroidized specimens
had the lowest remanence (4:55  103  4:89  103 T).
The same trend of Fig. 2(b) with coercivity means that
remanence is high in order of martensite, pearlite and ferrite
phase. Remanence is the magnetization remaining within the
sample after an external magnetic eld is eliminated. The
mechanism for the dierent levels of remanence in each
phase observed in this investigation has yet to be resolved.
Change of magnetic hysteresis loss with heat treatment
conditions is shown in Fig. 2(c). Magnetic hysteresis loss of
water quenched specimens (20:80  22:06 kJm3 ) was higher than that of isothermally transformed, or continuously
cooled (13:82  18:68 kJm3 ) or spheroidized ones
(14:44  16:09 kJm3 ), although the dierence among three
phases was not distinct compared to the changes of coercivity
or remanence.
Figure 2(d) shows the change of saturation magnetization
with heat treatment conditions. Saturation magnetization was
observed to change little regardless of heat treatment
conditions and it seemed not to be much aected by the

microstructural changes by heat treatment conditions.


Coercivity and remanence changed a large amount with
dierent phases (martensite, pearlite, ferrite). Therefore, the
two magnetic evaluation parameters can be utilized to
discriminate phases of steel products.
3.3

Correlations of magnetic properties with interlamellar spacing and strength of pearlitic steel
Pearlitic specimens had a wide range of coercivity as
already shown in Fig. 2(a), which seemed to be related to the
dierent interlamellar spacings resulted from various heat
treatment conditions. Figure 3(a) shows the changes of
coercivity and remanence as a function of the interlamellar
spacing. Both parameters decreased linearly with increasing
the interlamellar spacing. In other words, coercivity and
remanence were higher as the interlamellar spacing was
narrower.
Lo et al.10) and Hetherington et al.28) observed the
magnetic domain walls in pearlitic steel by Lorenz microscopy and reported that they tended to be pinned against
cementite lamellae. The pinning of domain walls to cementite lamellae is thought to be due to the residual stress eld29)
arising between ferrite matrix and mismatched cementite

Magnetic Evaluation of Microstructures and Strength of Eutectoid Steel

lamellar. Narrower interlamellar spacing means more interfaces between these two phases, and hence higher probability
to hinder the magnetic domain wall movement (higher
coercivity). From the results of linear regression analysis, the
correlations of coercivity and remanence with interlamellar
spacing can be formulated as eqs. (1) and (2), respectively.

Remanence, Mr / 10-3 T
5.2

Fracture Strength, FS / MPa

Hc 2:09  2:20  S

Mr 6:94  8:44  S

2189

5.4

5.6

5.8

6.0

6.2

coercivity

1000

FS = 814.8 x Hc - 551.3
950

remanence
FS = 217.5 x Mr - 355.5

900
850

where, Hc , Mr and S are coercivity (kAm1 ), remanence


(103 T) and interlamellar spacing (mm), respectively.
Figure 3(b) shows the change of hysteresis loss and
saturation magnetization with pearlite interlamellar spacing.
Hysteresis loss seems not to be a very eective magnetic
parameter due to insucient correlation (correlation coefcient of 0.82), although a decreasing tendency was observed
with increasing the interlamellar spacing.
Figure 4 shows the correlations of magnetic coercivity and
remanence with fracture strength. It can be seen that there
exist linear correlations between magnetic parameters (coercivity, remanence) and fracture strength. From the results
of the linear regression analysis, the correlations between
them are formulated as eqs. (3) and (4), respectively.

where, FS is the fracture strength in unit of MPa and the


correlation coecient is 0.93.

FS 814:8  Hc  551:3

FS 217:5  Mr  355:5

Coercivity, Hc / kAm-1

(a)

coercivity
remanence

1.9

6.0

5.8
1.8
5.6
1.7
5.4
1.6

Remanence, Mr / 10-3 T

6.2

5.2

0.08

0.12

0.16

0.20

0.24

Pearlite Interlamellar Spacing, S / m

19

2.00

hysteresis loss
saturation magnetization

(b)

1.98
18
1.96

17
16

1.94

15
1.92
14
13
0.08

0.12

0.16

0.20

Saturation Magnetization, Ms / T

Hysteresis Loss, HL / kJm-3

20

1.90
0.24

Pearlite Interlamellar Spacing, S / m


Fig. 3 Change of magnetic properties with pearlite interlamellar spacing:
(a) coercivity and remanence and (b) hysteresis loss and saturation
magnetization.

750
700
1.6

1.7

1.8

1.9

2.0

Coercivity, Hc / kAm-1
Fig. 4 Correlations of fracture strength with magnetic coercivity and
remanence.

2.0

800

where, the correlation coecient is 0.94.


The above equations imply that the strength of pearlitic
eutectoid steel with a variety of interlamellar spacing can be
evaluated by measuring magnetic coercivity or remanence,
although more experimental data seem to be needed to
enhance statistical reliability of the correlations.
Both the mechanical strength and the magnetic coercivity
of pearlitic steel become higher as the interlamellar spacing is
narrower. Coercivity seems to have a good linear correlation
with fracture strength as the measured coercivity reects the
change of interlamellar spacing which mainly determines the
strength of pearlitic steel. Therefore, coercivity and remanence were suggested as potential magnetic evaluation
parameters to assess the interlamellar spacing and fracture
strength of pearlitic eutectoid steel instead of time-consuming metallographic and mechanical tests.
4.

Summary and Conclusion

From the research to evaluate the microstructure and


strength of variously heat treated eutectoid steel by magnetic
property measurements, the following conclusions were
drawn:
(1) Coercivity and remanence were observed to be high in
order of martensite, pearlite and ferrite phase.
(2) Coercivity and remanence decreased linearly with
increasing interlamellar spacing of pearlitic eutectoid steel.
(3) Quantitative linear correlations were obtained between
fracture strength of pearlitic steel with coercivity and
remanence, respectively. Coercivity and remanence are
suggested as potential magnetic parameters to be able to
discriminate phases. They can also be used to assess
quantitatively the pearlite interlamellar spacing and the
strength of eutectoid steel.

2190

J. W. Byeon and S. I. Kwun

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