A debate on the bainite reaction

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Department of Materials Science and Engineering


The authors debate three topics central to the controversies which have enveloped the bainite reaction ever since it was first recognized as a distinctive mode of austenite decomposition. These include: "what is bainite?", "the growth mechanism of the ferritic component of bainite", and "the sources of bainitic carbide precipitation." RFH concludes that bainite is the product of a shear transformation. Individual bainite plates are suggested to grow substantially more rapidly than volume diffusion-control allows, but a constraint such as the build-up of volume strain energy limits the extent of their growth. This mechanism of growth ensures extensive supersaturation of bainitic ferrite with respect to carbon. Whether or not carbides precipitate in association with bainite plates and whether the carbide is cementite or ε, however, is a complex question in competitive reaction kinetics. New experimental evidence is presented to demonstrate that ε carbide precipitated in lower bainite dissolves upon heating above the kinetic-B stemperature in an alloy steel containing 1.5 pct Si. This result is taken to support the existence of the metastable eutectoid reaction γ ⇌ α + ε at ca 350°C. HIA and KRK define bainite as the product of a nonlamellar eutectoid reaction. On this view, carbide precipitation thus plays an essential, rather than an ancillary role. Development of the Widmanstatten morphology by the ferritic component of bainite is shown to be inessential to the classification of a eutectoid structure as bainite. When this morphology is present, however, it is concluded to grow by the ledge mechanism, without the participation of shear, at rates of the order of or less than those allowed by volume diffusion-control. New experimental evidence is presented to show that the lengthening and thickening kinetics of individual plates within sheaves of upper bainite are consistent with this description. The results of a new calculation indicate that the initial carbon content of bainite plates lies between the α/α + Fe3C) and the extrapolated α/(α+ γ) phase boundaries, in agreement with expectation from the ledge mechanism of growth.

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© 1972 The Metallurgical of Society of AIME. Publisher’s version of record: https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02642439

Publication Title

Metallurgical Transactions