Ultra High Strength Steels for Roll Formed Automotive Body in White


One of the more recent steel developments is the quenching and partitioning process, first proposed by Speer et al. in 2003 on developing 3rd generation advanced high-strength steel (AHSS). The quenching and partitioning (Q&P) process set a new way of producing martensitic steels with enhanced austenite levels, realised through controlled thermal treatments. The main objective of the so-called 3rd generation steels was to realise comparable properties to the 2nd generation but without high alloying additions. Generally, Q&P steels have remained within lab-scale environments, with only a small number of Q&P steels produced industrially. Q&P steels are produced either by a one-step or two-step process, and the re-heating mechanism for the two-step adds additional complexities when heat treating the material industrially. The Q&P steels developed and tested throughout this thesis have been designed to achieve the desired microstructural evolution whilst fitting in with Tata’s continuous annealing processing line (CAPL) capabilities. The CALPHAD approach using a combination of thermodynamics, kinetics, and phase transformation theory with software packages ThermoCalc and JMatPro has been successfully deployed to find novel Q&P steels. The research undertaken throughout this thesis has led to two novel Q&P steels, which can be produced on CAPL without making any infrastructure changes to the line. The two novel Q&P steels show an apparent reduction in hardness mismatch, illustrated visually and numerically after nano-indentation experiments. The properties realised after Q&P heat treatments on the C-Mn-Si alloy with 0.2 Wt.% C and the C-Mn-Si alloy with the small Cr addition is superior to the commercially available QP980/1180 steels by BaoSteel. Both novel alloys had comparable levels of elongation and hole expansion ratio to QP1180 but are substantially stronger with a > 320MPa increase in tensile stress. The heat treatment is also less complex as there is no requirement to heat the steel back up after quenching due to one-step quenching and partitioning being employed on the novel alloys

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