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Cooling Rate Effect

Objective:
To study the cooling rate effects on the microstructure and hardness properties of 0.45% carbon
steel

Results:
Microstructures
The optical microscopes were used at high magnification to observe the microstructures of 4
medium carbon steel specimens with each undergoing different cooling rates. Sample D1 was
furnace cooled. Sample D2 was air cooled. Sample D3 was fan cooled. Sample D4 was water
quenched. The microstructures being observed for each specimen are showed in picture 1, which
can be found at the back of the report. For samples D1 to D3, the main microstructures observed
were Pearlite and Proeutectoid Ferrite while for sample D4, the main microstructure observed
was only Martensite.
Average
Vickers
Hardness
number

Readings
Sampl
e

3
Vickers Rockwell Vickers
Number
Scale
Number

Rockwell
Scale

Vickers
Number

Rockwel
l Scale

D1

RB=82.5

162.4

RB=83.5

165.5

RB=81.5

D2

RB=94.5

216.9

RB=94.0

213.8

D3

RB=92.5

205.5

RB=95.0

D4

RC=55.0

596

RC=57.5

4
Rockwel
l Scale

Vickers
Number

159.6

RB=85.5

172.4

165

RB=94.5

216.9

RB=94.5

216.9

216.1

220

RB=94.5

216.9

RB=94.5

216.9

214.8

644

RC=58.5

664

RC=54.5

586.7

622.7

Hardness test
A Rockwell hardness testing machine was used to test the strength of the metals that had went
through different cooling processes.
Table 1: Rockwell Hardness Test Results and conversion to Vickers Number

Cooling rate
The

Sample
D1
D2
D3
D4

Cooling
time, s
86400
18000
7200
120

Cooling rate,
C /s
0.01128
0.05417
0.1354
8.125

lg(C/s
)
-1.948
-1.266
-0.8683
0.9098

Average Vickers Hardness


number
165
216.1
214.8
622.7

cooling rate is defined as the drop in temperature (T) of the sample per unit time (t), (T/t). The
overall change temperature (T), is given to be (1000 - 25) = 975 where 1000 is the initial
temperature of the sample before cooling and 25 is when the sample cools down to room
temperature.

Table 2: Cooling Rate of the samples

Figure 2: Relationship between hardness and cooling rate

Discussion:
a) Relationship between cooling rate and Hardness
As seen in the graph, steel with higher Vickers Hardness number has a faster cooling rate
while on the other hand, steel with lower Vickers Hardness number has a slower cooling
rate.
b) Relationship between cooling rate and Microstructure
As seen in Figure 1, more pro-eutectoid ferrites and lesser pearlites are found when the
cooling rate is relatively long. When cooling rate increases to a higher rate, less proeutectoid ferrites and more pearlites are found. When cooling rate is extremely fast, there
would be no formation of any pro-eutectoid ferrites and pearlites, Matensites are formed
instead.

c) Relationship between Microstructure and Hardness


For Samples D1, D2 and D3, the cooling rate allow some form of carbon diffusion to take
place in the steel. As the cooling rate increases, the time allowed for carbon diffusion to
occur decreases. When the rate of carbon diffusion decrease, the hardness of the steel
increases. Therefore, with the increase in cooling rate, the hardness of steel will also
increase. This can be seen in the microscope pictures of samples D1, D2 and D3. The
white region is the pro-eutectoid ferrite while the dark region is the pearlite. When
cooling rate increases, the formation of pro-eutectoid ferrites(white region) decrease
while the formation of pearlites(dark region) increase.

For Sample D4, the cooling rate was very quick (8.125C /s). There was no diffusion of
carbon atoms in the microstructure. There might be some movement of iron atom but the
structure cannot become BCC while while the crbon is tapped in solution. There fore, it

transform Austenite in to martensite, which is a single-phase, supersaturated solution of


carbon in ferrite with carbon atoms located interstitially in a body-centered tetragonal
lattice. The formation of Body-centered tetragonal structure results in the material to be
very hard and brittle. Therefore, Vickers number for it is high.

Conclusion:
In this experiment, the relationship of cooling rate can be seemed to be related to the hardness of
a steel. Therefore, with this knowledge know, we are able to design steel that fits the desired
mechanical properties we want.