Publication Details

Dippenaar, R., Bernhard, C., Schider, S. & Wieser, G. (2014). Austenite grain growth and the surface quality of continuously cast steel. Metallurgical and Materials Transactions B: Process Metallurgy and Materials Processing Science, 45 (2), 409-418.


Austenite grain growth does not only play an important role in determining the mechanical properties of steel, but certain surface defects encountered in the continuous casting industry have also been attributed to the formation of large austenite grains. Earlier research has seen innovative experimentation, the development of metallographic techniques to determine austenite grain size and the building of mathematical models to simulate the conditions pertaining to austenite grain growth during the continuous casting of steel. Oscillation marks and depressions in the meniscus region of the continuously casting mold lead to retarded cooling of the strand surface, which in turn results in the formation of coarse austenite grains, but little is known about the mechanism and rate of formation of these large austenite grains. Relevant earlier research will be briefly reviewed to put into context our recent in situ observations of the delta-ferrite to austenite phase transition. We have confirmed earlier evidence that very large delta-ferrite grains are formed very quickly in the single-phase region and that these large delta-ferrite grains are transformed to large austenite grains at low cooling rates. At the higher cooling rates relevant to the early stages of the solidification of steel in a continuously cast mold, delta-ferrite transforms to austenite by an apparently massive type of transformation mechanism. Large austenite grains then form very quickly from this massive type of microstructure and on further cooling, austenite transforms to thin ferrite allotriomorphs on austenite grain boundaries, followed by Widmanstätten plate growth, with almost no regard to the cooling rate. This observation is important because it is now well established that the presence of a thin ferrite film on austenite grain boundaries is the main cause of reduction in hot ductility. Moreover, this reduction in ductility is exacerbated by the presence of large austenite grains.



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