Microstructure formed by diffusional or martensitic transformation from fine-grained austenite of which grain size is smaller than 5 μm was studied. Grain refinement of austenite was established through two kinds of reversion processes; (1) cyclic transformation between martensite and austenite and (2) reverse transformation from tempered and cold-rolled lath martensite (or pearlite). In the process of (1), the fine austenite structures whose grain sizes of 5–10 μm are obtained. Refinement of austenite grain size results in the increase of hardness. In the process of (2), austenite grain size can be refined down to about 2 μm in low-carbon Mn steels by microalloying through pinning of austenite grain growth by alloy carbides. The ferrite grain size after continuous cooling transformation becomes finer as austenite grain size is refined. However, the grain size ratio of austenite and ferrite, dα/dγ, increases by refining austenite grain size. For the austenite of grain size smaller than 5 μm, the ferrite grain size becomes coarser than that of austenite for slow cooling. A similar trend in the change of ferrite grain size by refinement of austenite was recognized for isothermal pearlite transformation in eutectoid alloys. Thus, it is suggested that extensive accelerated cooling is important to obtain fine-grained ferrite by diffusional transformations from the fine-grained austenite. Packet and block sizes of lath martensite in low carbon steels are also refined by decreasing the austenite grain size. Several packets and blocks are formed even from the austenite matrix of 2 μm in grain size.
2008 by The Iron and Steel Institute of Japan