The steel industry is constantly looking for innovations and solutions to improve production processes as well as product properties. However, current technologies result from decades of development and thus have already reached maturity. Therefore, bright innovations have to arise from technological breakthroughs. The objective of those novelties is to induce drastic changes in terms of process or product.
Magnetic heat treatment might be a solution to reach both objectives. Indeed, recent researches have shown that magnetic fields can significantly modify the transformation kinetics in steels. This can turn into very positive impacts on the metallurgical processes. However, researches on this topic are in the early stage and a lot of fields have not been studied yet.
This work has been carried out in this challenging context. The main objective is to study the effect of magnetic fields on cementite spheroidization and ferrite recrystallization. So far, these two transformations involve long thermal treatments at high temperatures. Thus, a reduction of the processing time or an improvement of the mechanical properties of the steels by using magnetic field processing would be a significant improvement for this kind of thermal treatment.
The transformations that are studied imply large microstructure modifications: lamellae breaks into spheroids while ferrite recrystallizes. As a consequence, the developments of dedicated microstructure characterization techniques are concomitant objectives. As it will be shown latter, we decided to develop and optimize image analysis tools.
Practically, the completion of this work has required the pursuit of four objectives:
Objective 1: develop an image analysis tool dedicated to pearlite spheroidization study,
Objective 2: study the effect of magnetic field on cementite spheroidization,
Objective 3: develop an image analysis tool dedicated to ferrite recrystallization study,
Objective 4: study the effect of magnetic field on ferrite recrystallization.
This work is divided in four parts described below.
A general introduction constitutes the first part. It contains two chapters.
Chapter I focuses on a literature review of the effect of magnetic fields on steels. The first section of this chapter deals with the basics of metallurgy and magnetism required to understand this work. Then, the reader will find a literature review about the effects of homogeneous magnetic fields on steel transformations.
As it has been said before, the specificity of this work lies in the fact that the transformations studied were analysed and characterized using image analysis. The Chapter II is dedicated to this technique. The basics of image analysis are summarized in the first section of this chapter. Then, specific sections are dedicated to each step of image analysis: pre-treatment, image segmentation and characterizations. The limits of this technique, as well as its applications are described in the two last sections of this chapter.
The second part of this work is divided in three chapters and deals with cementite spheroidization under magnetic field.
Chapter III provides a detailed introduction to cementite spheroidization. The first section of this chapter introduces the pearlite as well as its microstructure. Using these concepts, the mechanisms and the kinetic of cementite spheroidization and cementite ripening will be introduced. Finally, the last section of this chapter will focus literature results which indicate that a potential effect of magnetic field on cementite spheroidization might be expected.
After this detailed introduction, the tools used to study the cementite spheroidization under magnetic field will be described in Chapter IV. The first section deals with the characterization techniques used to study pearlite spheroidization. Then, the furnace and the heat treatments that have been performed will be described.
With these tools, we will describe, in Chapter V, the results that have been achieved about cementite spheroidization under magnetic field. First, we will deeply analyse the effect of temperature and heat treatment duration on cementite spheroidization. This will be the opportunity to study in details the mechanism of cementite spheroidization and spheroids ripening. Microstructure evolutions induced by these two transformations will also be analysed. The effects of magnetic field on cementite spheroidization are described in the last section of this chapter.
The analysis of the effect of magnetic field on ferrite recrystallization constitutes the third part of this work. It is divided in three chapters.
Chapter VI provides a detailed introduction to ferrite recrystallization. The first section of this chapter deals with the crystalline structure defects induced by the steel forming. The detailed description of the mechanisms and the kinetics of defects elimination by the recovery, primary recrystallization and secondary recrystallization constitute the three next sections of this chapter. The last section of this chapter summarizes the results of different relevant studies on the effects of magnetic fields on these three processes.
The chapter VI is followed by a detailed description of the characterization techniques as well as the heat treatment performed to study ferrite recrystallization (Chapter VII).
Chapter VIII describes the results that have been obtained about ferrite recrystallization under magnetic field. We will study the effect of temperature and heat treatment duration on ferrite recrystallization. The involved transformations will be studied in detail. Finally, the effect of magnetic field on ferrite recrystallization will be discussed in the last section of this chapter.
The general conclusions as well as the prospects of this work will be addressed in the fourth part of this work, respectively in Chapters IX and X.