2008 Volume 48 Issue 8 Pages 1063-1070
The present paper addresses several connected issues that concern the mechanical properties of ultrafine grained martensitic steels. Recent research, particularly including EBSD studies, has clarified the complex microstructure of dislocated martensitic steels and shown the central importance of martensite blocks, which are subvolumes of laths that share a Bain variant of the parent austenite. The block-and-packet structure of the martensite appears well-designed to minimize the elastic energy introduced during the martensitic transformation. The martensite block is, ordinarily, the effective grain size for both strength and cleavage fracture. However, the role of the block in imparting strength is sensitive to carbon contamination of the block boundaries. To optimize strength carbon should be present; to minimize the ductile–brittle transition temperature it should be eliminated. When fine grain size produces high strength, it also causes low elongation. The elongation can be improved by including mechanisms, such as TRIP, that lower the initial work hardening rate.