2014 Volume 54 Issue 7 Pages 1667-1676
Carbide precipitation in a H21 tool steel during conventional heat treatment was studied. The aim of this work was to study the exact microstructure and for better understanding of carbide formation during double tempering process of the H21 tool steel. The steel was austenised either at 1100°C or 1250°C for 1 hour, and water quenched. Double tempering was performed at 650, 750 and 800°C for 1 hour with air cooling in the first and second temper for each austenising temperature. The results showed that the double tempered microstructure consisted of tempered martensite, lower bainite and carbides. The current study confirmed previous findings and contributed to existing knowledge that depending on the tempering temperature, the types of carbide formed during double tempering were M2C, Fe3C, M6C and M23C6 carbides. The present study findings add substantially to our understanding of the carbide formation sequence in the H21 tool steel during double tempering. No secondary peak hardening was observed, and the highest hardness (505 HV) was obtained after austenising at 1250°C and double tempering at 650°C, which implies that the double tempering of the H21 tool steel should be carried out below 650°C.