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The impact of alloying elements in Alloy steel

Alloy steel is steel alloyed with a variety of elements in total amounts of between 1.0% and 50% by weight to improve its mechanical properties. Alloy steels are broken down into two groups: low alloy steels and high alloy steels. but the phrase "alloy steel" refers to "low alloy" steels.

 The following are a range of improved properties in alloy steels (as compared to carbon steels): strength, hardness, toughness, wear resistance, hardenability, and hot hardness. In order to achieve some of these improved properties the metal may require heat treating.
Commonly alloying elements include manganese (the most-common one), nickel, chromium, molybdenum, vanadium, silicon, and boron. Less common alloying elements include aluminum, cobalt, copper, cerium, niobium, titanium, tungsten, tin, and zirconium.
Some of these find uses in highly-demanding applications, such as in the turbine blades of jet engines, in spacecraft, and in nuclear reactors. Because of the ferromagnetic properties of iron, some steel alloys find important applications where their responses to magnetism are very important, including in electric motors and in transformers.
Low alloy steels are usually used to achieve better hardenability, which in turn improves its other mechanical properties. They are also used to increase corrosion resistance in certain environmental conditions.
With medium to high carbon levels, low alloy steel is difficult to weld. Lowering the carbon content to the range of 0.10% to 0.30%, along with some reduction in alloying elements, increases the weldability and formability of the steel while maintaining its strength.Such a metal is classed as a high-strength low-alloy steel.
alloying elements are added to achieve certain properties in the material. As a guideline, alloying elements are added in lower percentages (less than 5%) to increase strength or hardenability, or in larger percentages (over 5%) to achieve special properties, such as corrosion resistance or extreme temperature stability. Manganese, silicon, or aluminium are added during the steelmaking process to remove dissolved oxygen, sulfur and phosphorous from the melt.
Manganese, silicon, nickel, and copper are added to increase strength by forming solid solutions in ferrite. Chromium, vanadium, molybdenum, and tungsten increase strength by forming second-phase carbides. Nickel and copper improve corrosion resistance in small quantities. Molybdenum helps to resist embrittlement. Zirconium, cerium, and calcium increase toughness by controlling the shape of inclusions. Manganese sulfide, lead, bismuth, selenium, and tellurium increase machinability.
Thealloying elements tend to either form compounds or carbides. Nickel is very soluble in ferrite, therefore it forms compounds, usually Ni3Al. Aluminium dissolves in the ferrite and forms the compounds Al2O3 and AlN. Silicon is also very soluble and usually forms the compound SiO2•MxOy. Manganese mostly dissolves in ferrite forming the compounds MnS, MnO•SiO2, but will also form carbides in the form of (Fe,Mn)3C. Chromium forms partitions between the ferrite and carbide phases in steel, forming (FeCr3)C, Cr7C3, and Cr23C6. The type of carbide that chromium forms depends on the amount of carbon and other types of alloying elements present. Tungsten and molybdenum form carbides if there is enough carbon and an absence of stronger carbide forming elements (i.e. titanium & niobium), they form the carbides Mo2Cand W2C, respectively. Vanadium, titanium, and niobium are strong carbide forming elements, forming vanadium carbide, titanium carbide, and niobium carbide, respectively.
Alloying elements also have an effect on the eutectoid temperature of the steel. Manganese and nickel lower the eutectoid temperature and are known as austenite stabilizing elements. With enough of these elements the austenitic structure may be obtained at room temperature. Carbide forming elements raise the eutectoid temperature; these elements are known as ferrite stabilizing elements.


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