Characterization of deformed pearlitic rail steel
Paper in proceedings, 2017
Pearlitic steels are commonly used for railway rails because they combine good strength and wear properties. During service, the passage of trains results in a large accumulation of shear strains in the surface layer of the rail, leading to crack initiation. Knowledge of the material properties in this region is therefore important for fatigue life prediction. As the strain is limited to a thin surface layer, very large strain gradients can be found. This makes it very difficult to quantify changes in material behavior. In this study hardness measurements were performed close to the surface using the Knoop hardness test method. The orientation of the pearlitic lamellas was measured to give an overview of the deformed microstructure in the surface of the rail. Microstructural characterization of the material was done by optical microscopy and scanning electron microscopy to evaluate the changes in the microstructure due to the large deformation. A strong gradient can be observed in the top 50 μm of the rail, while deeper into the rail the microstructure of the base material is preserved.