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Proceedings of National Symposium for Post Graduate Students (NSPGS 2010), 24 25 April, 2010: Vol 4 Civil, Materials &

p; Metallurgy

Development of ADI by Water Quenching

V.S.Saravanan*, P.Gopalakrishnan*, N.Devaraj**
* Dept of Metallurgy, PSG College of Technology, Coimbatore
** Manager, Metallurgy, Indoshell Cast (P) Ltd, Coimbatore


Austempered Ductile Iron(ADI) is a versatile material capable of meeting many applications with wide range of
properties with a low weight to strength ratio or we can say low cost to strength ratio. This paper will briefly
review the production as well as mechanical properties, important characteristics and applications of this
material. Already considerable effort has been made to establish the data on mechanical and physical properties
on ADI. Foundries willing to produce ADI need close control on chemical composition, casting soundness and
desirable microstructure with dimensional stability. Heat treatment facility needs necessary equipment and close
controls. As this material exhibits the strength levels almost twice as compared to standard ductile iron at the
same level of elongation and toughness with excellent wear and fatigue resistance and has conducive for work
hardening treatment on the surfaces makes ADI a potential material for various applications and particularly it
is best replacement material for forged steel. Superiority of ADI can be realized through Quality Index of the
material. Quality Index(1) exhibits the relationship between tensile strength and elongation of the form of :

(Tensile strength ksi)2 x (elongation%) 1000 = QI

For the Ductile Iron Grade 60-40-18 has the highest QI of 64.8 and 29 for Grade the 120-90-02.When tensile
strength increases at the cost of elongation ,QI decreases.Austenitic stainless steel with 480 Mpa Tensile
strength and 30% elongation exhibits the QI of 145.4.Austempered Ductile Iron with a combination of excellent
strength and elongations exhibits the remarkable QI. As per ASTM A897-90 the grades 850-550-10 and 1050-
700-7 possess the Quality Indices of 196 and 195 respectively. From the above QI values the superiority of the
material can be realized. Production of ADI involves Austenitizing followed by salt bath quenching. But in the
recent scenario handling and disposing the salts after treatment is a head ache for the foundries or heat
treatment shop as they are already marked as red categories by pollution control board. Internationally. Not
only to the environment but also hazardous to human beings who are handling this salts. The excellent
engineering material is not so popularized and suppressed its usefulness due to lack of awareness about the
material and the production process and due to the above said safety aspects. Even if we impart awareness
without an environmental friendly method it is difficult to enhance the production volumes. So it has been
decided to find out the alternate route for developing this material which must be an environmental friendly.
While studying the various theories about this material its metallurgy, it is understood that this material can even
manufacture with water quench instead of oil or salt bath quenching. By keeping this idea in mind the
experimental design has been developed. Before going into detail about the project we will discuss the
metallurgy of ADI.

Proceedings of National Symposium for Post Graduate Students (NSPGS 2010), 24 25 April, 2010: Vol 4 Civil, Materials & Metallurgy


ADI is a high strength and wear resistant material produced by Austempering heat treatment
of ductile iron in controlled three stage heat treatment cycle.

Wear resistance of ADI is superior to steel at any given hardness level making it ideal for
many mining, construction, agriculture and automobile industries.Ductile Cast Iron undergoes
a remarkable transformation when subjected to the austempering heat process. A new
microstructure of Ausferrite results with capability superior to many traditional, high
performance, ferrous and aluminium alloys. ADI is sometimes referred to as "Bainitic Ductile
Iron", but when speaking with metallurgical sense ADI contains little or no bainite. Bainite is
a matrix of acicular (needle-like) ferrite and cementite where as ADI contains Ausferrite
matrix which is a mixture of acicular ferrite and carbon stabilized austenite. This ausferrite
may resemble bainite metallographically.


Proceedings of National Symposium for Post Graduate Students (NSPGS 2010), 24 25 April, 2010: Vol 4 Civil, Materials & Metallurgy

An ausferrite matrix will be converted to bainite if the tempering time reaches the bainitic bay
of its TTT curve.To optimize ADI properties for a particular application the austempering
parameters must be carefully selected and controlled. Castings are first austenitised to dissolve
maximum carbon in austenite, then quenched rapidly to the austempering between 230 &
350C to avoid the formation of deleterious pearlite or martensite. While the casting is held at
austempering temperature the carbon rich austenite phase which is stable in ADI enhances its
physical and mechanical properties. Furthermore, the austenite in ADI is thermodynamically
stable, it can undergo a strain-induced transformation when locally stressed, producing islands
of hard martensite that enhance wear properties. This behaviour contrasts with that of the
metastable austenite retained in steels, which can transform to brittle martensite. Actually
untransformed austenite ,can be called as retained austenite which is not desired phase for
ADI since this retained austenite will transform into some other phases such as cementite or
martensite during the coarse of service which in turn affects the toughness of the material. But
this phenomenon is applied in some specific applications to produce Carbidic Austempered
Ductile Iron (CADI).

2. Production of ADI

The base SG Iron must be of high quality with good graphite nodularity( >80%) and nodule
count ( 200- 600 /mm in 1inch diameter section). To obtain better hardenability some
alloying elements are required except for thin- section castings. But care must be taken in
selecting the alloying elements to avoid segregation and formation of alloy carbides which
affects the machinability and mechanical properties. For high strength and toughness
controlling the manganese percentage below 0.3% is essential. For section thickness upto
50mm addition of Nickel ( 2 %) and Molybdenum( 0.3%) will improve the strength and

3 stages of heat treatment involved in producing ADI namely.


2. Isothermal Quenching ( Austempering)

3. Cooling to room temperature


During Austenitizing all the phases present in the microstructure is transformed into
Austenite. Normally Austenite can hold the maximum of 2.0% of carbon(2).

2. Isothermal Quenching (Austempering):

Austenitizing is followed by Iso thermal quenching. After the first stage austenitizing the
castings are quickly transferred and quenched into the austempering bath held at
predetermined temperature normally in the range of 230 C to 350C.

Proceedings of National Symposium for Post Graduate Students (NSPGS 2010), 24 25 April, 2010: Vol 4 Civil, Materials & Metallurgy

Austempering baths are normally a salt bath consisting sodium and potassium nitrates. Oil
baths are not preferable since it is hazardous at higher temperatures. Recently feasibility of
application of controlled volume of water for austempering is being examined. Quenching
temperature can be between the zone of Upper Bainite and Martensite.i.e the quenching
temperature is maintained between just below the upper bainitic zone and just above the Ms
temperature. Because of the sudden quenching austenite is not able to transform into some
other phases and remain as it is as Austenite. After the above transformation the material is
maintained at a constant temperature as described above. 2 stages of transformation takes
place during iso thermal quenching.

Stage 1: During this period ferrite nucleates at the grain boundary of the Austenite and starts
growing. When ferrite starts growing it ejects the carbon since it can hold only a maximum
0.025% of carbon. So the enrichment of carbon in the austenite will become more since the
volume of austenite is reducing continuously at the cost of increase in ferrite volume.Micro
constituent at this stage is the untransformed low carbon austenite and ferrite plates.

Stage 2: This enriched carbon stabilized the austenite which is thermo dynamically stable and
possesses high strength and toughness. In a span of critical time interval stability is attained
and the growth of ferrite stops. The resultant microstructure is ausferrtie. Micro constituent at
this stage is the Fully transformed high carbon austenite and fully grown ferrite plates called

Stage3: This stage comes when the quenching time is extended more, then ferrite grows more
in the grain boundary. As the austenite already have enough carbon the excess carbon will be
precipitated as cementite and one particular time all the entire Austenite will be transformed in
to ferrite and cementite and become bainite. Because of more volume of ferrite bainite reveals
relatively lower hardness and strength than ausferrite. Micro constituent at this stage is the
fully grown ferrite and cementite called Bainite. Therefore to obtain good ADI the treatment
should contain only stage1 and stage 2.

Typical Austempering cycles for different grades of ADI

Proceedings of National Symposium for Post Graduate Students (NSPGS 2010), 24 25 April, 2010: Vol 4 Civil, Materials & Metallurgy

When austempering time increases the graphite nodules also acts a carbon sink and liberate
carbon also the peripherical austenite volume is reduced which promotes the formation of
bainitic structure. Austenite volume fraction increases with austempering temperature and it is
varying between 18% & 40%. Presence of defects in the casting will affect the carbon
migration and it affects the formation of Ausferrite matrix. So ADI casting should be free
from deleterious castings defect such as shrinkage, oxide, silicate inclusions, gas defects etc.

3. Experimental Design of Austempering Heat treatment on Ductile Iron castings by

water quenching method..

About 10 test bars have been taken with same dimensions for the trial. All the test bars were
extracted from the same test bar, so that the chemical composition is same for the test bars and
machined to standard ASTM A 247. Two furnaces are used for this trial. One is for
austenitizing and another one is for austempering. After several trials the below heat
treatment cycle has been fixed for getting Ausferrite matrix.Test bars have been heated above
the Acm temperature and hold for sufficient time and the test bars were quenched in water at
70C for sufficient time to bring down the temperature of the test bar to 300-330 C
immediately. Then test bars were immediately transferred to another furnace which was
already kept at a tempering temperature of about 300 -330 C and held the samples at that
temperature for about 30 -40 minutes and allowed to furnace cool.

Then mechanical test and metallurgical test were carried out in the test bars.

UTS 1053 Mpa

E 4.2%
Hardness 363 BHN


1. Ductile Iron Data for design Engineers-

2. A study on the influence of Heat treatment on the Wear resistance of Alloyed ADI- Indian Foundry Journal March 2009.
3. The Challenge and Opportunity presented to the S.G.Iron Industry by the development of Austempered Ductile Iron by
D.Forrest, Chief Foundry Metallurgist , QIT-Fer et Titane Inc.
4. ADI: Another Avenue for Ductile Iron Foundries by Kathy L. Hayrynen, Applied Process Inc,Livonia,Michigan.
5. The Production of Austempered Ductile Iron (ADI) by Kathy L. Hayrynen, Applied Process Inc,Livonia,Michigan.
6. WWW.Key to
7. Cast Iron Technology Illiot Roy.
8. High Si & Mn contaning ADI for Wear Applications by S.M.Lee,S.S.Park and B.M.Moon.