Steel Worked In Austenitic State
Category: THE FORGING OF STEEL
As a general rule steel should
be worked when it is in the austenitic state. (See page 108.) It
is then soft and ductile.
As the steel is heated above the critical temperature the size of
the austenite crystals tends to grow rapidly. When forging starts,
however, these grains are broken up. The growth is continually
destroyed by the hammering, which should consequently be continued
down to the upper critical temperature when the austenite crystals
break up into ferrite and cementite. The size of the final grains
will be much smaller and hence a more uniform structure will result
if the mother austenite was also fine grained. A final steel
will be composed of pearlite; ferrite and pearlite; or cementite
and pearlite, according to the carbon content.
The ultimate object is to secure a fine, uniform grain throughout
the piece and this can be secured by uniform heating and by thoroughly
rolling it or working it at a temperature just down to its critical
point. If this is correctly done the fracture will be fine and
silky. Steel which has been overheated slightly and the forging
stopped at too high a temperature will show a granular fracture.
A badly overheated or burned steel will have iridescent colors
on a fresh fracture, it will be brittle both hot and cold, and
Next: Steel Can Be Worked Cold