Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2015

Degree Type


Degree Name



Materials Engineering

First Advisor

Susil K. Putatunda


Third generation advanced high strength steels (AHSS's) are emerging as very important engineering materials for structural applications. These steels have high specific strength and thus will contribute significantly to weight reduction in automotive and other structural component. In this investigation two such low carbon low alloy steels (LCLA) with high silicon content (1.6-2wt %) has been developed. These two steel alloys were subjected to single step and two step austempering in the temperature range of 260-399oC to obtain desired microstructures and mechanical properties. Austempering heat treatment was carried out for 2 hours in a molten salt bath. The microstructures were characterized by X-ray diffraction, scanning electron microscopy, transmission electron microscopy and optical metallography. Quantitative analysis was carried out by image analysis technique. The effect of austempering temperature on the mechanical properties of these two alloys was examined. The influence of microstructures on the mechanical properties of alloys was also studied.

Austempering heat treatment resulted in fine carbide free bainitic ferrite and high carbon austenite microstructure in the samples austempered above Ms temperature, whereas tempered martensite and austenite microstructure was obtained in samples austempered below Ms temperature. Yield strength, tensile strength and fracture toughness were found to increase as the austempering temperature decreases, whereas ductility increases as the austempering temperature increases. Tensile strength in the range of 1276MPa -1658 MPa and the fracture toughness in the range of 80-141MPam^-0.5 were obtained in these two steels. Volume fractions of different phases present and their lath sizes are related to the mechanical properties. Austempered samples consisting of mixed microstructure of bainitic ferrite and tempered martensite phases resulted in the exceptional combination of strength and toughness.