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Scripta Materialia,Vol. 34, No. 12, pp.

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10 wt.% Al (UHCS-1OAl)
Eric M. ‘Talefl?, Mamoru Nagao**, Kenji Higashi*** and Oleg D. Sherby* ***
‘Department of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics,
The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78712, U.S.A.
**Kobe Steel, Ltd., Materials Design Section, Materials Research Laboratory,
l-5-5 Takatukadai, Nishi-ku, Hyogo, Japan.
***Department of Mechanical Systems Engineering, College of Engineering,
University of Osaka Prefecture, Sakai, Osaka 593, Japan.
***“Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Stanford University,
Stanford, CA 94305, U.S.A.

(Received December 7,199s)

(Revised January 26,1996)

The phenomenon of superplasticityhas been historicallyobserved at low strain rates of 10m3s-l and less in
most superplastic materials (1). Recent studies, however, have shown superplastic behavior to occur at strain
rates significantly greater than 10s3 s-l in some materials (2-20). Such high-strain-rate superplasticity
has been observed principally in metal-matrix composites of Al (2-13) and mechanically-alloyed Al-
base materials (14-18), along with powder-metallurgy Al alloys (19) and mechanically-alloyed N&base
materials (20). The present study represents a new processing route by which high-strain-rate superplasticity
can be obtained in a two-phase, Fe-base alloy. For this study, an ultrahigh-carbon steel containing 10 wt.%
Al (UHCS-lOAl) was processed by a powder-metallurgy technique. Mechanical attrition was used to
introduce a large degree of cold work into pre-alloyed powders, creating the very fine microstructural
features necessary for high-strain-rate superplasticity. Because this material contains two phases, cr-Fe and
K-carbide (Fe&l& where x = 0.5 to l), in the range of processing temperatures, a fine grain size was
produced upon consolidation and retained during deformation. It is this fine grain size which is responsible
for the high-strain-rate superplastic behavior observed.

Experimental Procedure
The two UI-ICS-1OAl materials of this study were produced from powders gas-atomized from an alloyed
melt. One material was produced by consolidating powders in a can using hot-isopressure extrusion. This
material is designiated as the unattrited material. A second material was produced by mechanically attriting
powders for 80 hours in a rotating-arm ball mill before consolidation by hot-isopressure extrusion. This
material is designated as the attrited material. The unattrited material contained, by weight: 10.16% Al,
1.26% C, 1.61% Cr, 0.58% Mn, and a balance of Fe. The attrited material contained, by weight: 9.60% Al,




0 2 4 6 8

Figure 1. Stress-strain data from elongation-to-failure tests on the unattrited material at 92O’C.

1.22% C, 2.46% Cr, 0.55% Mn, 0.27% Ni, and a balance of Fe. Extruded rods of both materials were hot-
rolled into plates and the canning material was removed. Tensile coupons were machined from the plates
into samples with a 5 mm gage length and a 4 mm gage width. Samples were tested by elongation-to-failure
tests conducted at constant-true-strain rates. The unattrited material was tested at strain rates from low4 to
loo s-l. The attrited material was tested at strain rates from 10m4 to lo1 s-l.

Results and Discussion

Scanning-electron microscopy revealed the unattrited material to have a linear-intercept grain size of
L = 1.9 pm. The attrited material showed grains of varying size, with the majority having a linear
intercept size of L = 0.5pm while a few areas showed L = 1.4 pm. The results of elongation-to-failure
tests conducted at 92O’C on the unattrited material are shown in Fig. 1 as a plot of nominal stress versus
strain. The true-strain rate of each test is indicated above each data curve in Fig. 1. The results of elongation-
to-failure tests conducted at 92O’C on the attrited material are shown in Fig. 2 as a plot of nominal stress
versus strain. The true-strain rate of each test is indicated above each data curve in Fig. 2. The data of
both Fig. 1 and Fig. 2 indicate strain-hardening behavior during testing at high strain rates of 10-l s-l
and faster. Both materials show little or no strain hardening in tests at lower strain rates than this. Dynamic
grain growth was observed after testing at a strain rate of 10B4 s-l, with resulting average grain sizes of
L = 7.9pmand L = 1.1 pm for the unattrited and attrited materials, respectively.
The relationship between the flow stress and the true-strain rate of testing is revealed for both materials
in Fig. 3. This figure is a plot of true-strain rate versus flow stress at a true strain of E = 0.2 on double-
logarithmic scales. The slope of the data on this plot is equal to the stress exponent value, R. The unattrited
material shows a minimum stress exponent near R = 2 at the slowest strain rates of testing, 10e3 s-l
and less. This behavior has been historically observed in superplastic materials [l]. The attrited material,
however, exhibits a minimum stress exponent of rz = 4 occurring at fast strain rates of 10-l s-* and greater.
The attrited material also exhibits threshold-stress behavior, where the stress exponent increases rapidly
as strain rate decreases below 10s2 s-l.

I\ ,


/.-- -.

10-l s-1
,_-- ----------.

Figure 2. Stress-strain data from elongation-to-failure tests on the attrited material at 92O’C.

Unattritcd UI-KS-IOAI
Attritcd UHCS-1OAI

,I I
10-6 t ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ’”
IO0 10’ 102
Flow Stress (MPa)

Figure 3. ‘he-strain rats versus flow stress at 6 = 0.2 for the attritedandunattritedUHCS-1OAl
materialsat 920%.

True Slrrrin Ralc (~“1

Figure 4. Tensile elongation versus true-strain rate for the attrited and unattrited UHCS-1OAl materials at 92O’C.

Shown in Fig. 4 is a plot of elongation to failure versus true-strain rate of testing. The unattrited
material shows a maximum tensile ductility of 750% at the lowest strain rate of testing, 10m4 s-l, where
the minimum stress exponent is also observed. The tensile ductility of the unattrited material rapidly drops
with increasing strain rate to values of less than 200% above strain rates of 10-l s-r, The attrited material,
however, exhibits low ductility at the lowest strain rates. This low ductility corresponds the region in Fig. 3
which shows a strong threshold stress. The attrited material exhibits a peak in ductility at a strain rate of
10-l s-l, where 350% elongation is achieved. A very high elongation of 300% is still attained at a strain
rate of 10’ s-r, which drops to less than 200% at a strain rate of 10’ s-l. The strain rates where high
ductility is exhibited correspond well with the strain rates at which the stress exponent is lowest in the
attrited material. A peak in tensile ductility at strain rates from 10-l s-l to 10’ s-l is typical of materials
which exhibit high-stain-rate superplasticity (l-4,8,10-14,18,19,21).


By introducing a large degree of cold work into powders of a two-phase material a highly refined microstruc-
ture was created. The two phases helped to retain the tine microstructure after consolidation, resulting in
a grain size small enough to support high-strain-rate superplasticity. This result should be applicable to
other multi-phase systems. While one UHCS-1OAl material produced from consolidated powders exhibited
standard superplastic behavior, the material consolidated from attrited material exhibited behavior typical
of high-strain-rate superplasticity, with a peak ductility of 350% occuring at a strain rate of 10-r s-l.


This work was performed under the auspices of the U. S. Office of Naval Research under contract N-
00014-91-J-1197. The authors wish to extend their appreciation to Kobe Steel, Ltd. for their support of
this project.


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