Influence of short heat pulses on properties of martensite in medium carbon steels
Journal article, 2013

The process of tempering a martensitic medium carbon steel was investigated with the aim to study resulting material properties. The experimental results were used to model residual stresses caused by local heating, with the finite element method. Tempering was followed for times from 0.1 s up to 1 h by using laser heating and conventional salt bath furnace treatments within the temperature interval 500–700 °C. In addition, the thermal expansion was evaluated using dilatometry. Experiments showed that the initial stages of martensite decomposition, associated with loss of crystal tetragonality, proceed almost instantly. An initial large decrease of hardness within the first tenth of a second of the tempering process was measured, followed by only limited further softening with increased tempering time. Thus for the current material the tempering time had limited influence on hardness, governed primarily by the peak temperature during the heating process. Finite element modelling of rapid local heating and cooling showed that the tempering behaviour and associated dilatation effects yield a peak temperature dependent residual stress field with a broad tensile stress distribution for the case of un-tempered martensite. However, for tempered martensite the residual stress field depends primarily on the heating rate and peak temperature and shows large gradients with tensile stresses in the surface and compressive below. Thereby, for both cases, residual stresses were obtained but with completely different residual stress gradients.

Residual Stresses


Laser heat treatment


Flash heating

Martensite tempering


Krste Cvetkovski

Chalmers, Materials and Manufacturing Technology, Materials Technology

Johan Ahlström

Chalmers, Materials and Manufacturing Technology, Materials Technology

Birger Karlsson

Chalmers, Materials and Manufacturing Technology, Materials Technology

Materials Science & Engineering A: Structural Materials: Properties, Microstructure and Processing

0921-5093 (ISSN)

Vol. 561 321-328

Driving Forces

Sustainable development

Areas of Advance


Materials Science


Basic sciences

Subject Categories

Metallurgy and Metallic Materials



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