A cold-rolled Ti-V high strength low alloy (HSLA) steel was isothermally annealed at 650 °C and 700 °C for different times. A unique combination of techniques including visible light microscopy (VLM), transmission electron microscopy (TEM), matrix dissolution, small angle neutron scattering (SANS) and hardness measurement has been employed to investigate the evolution of microstructure, hardness and precipitate composition, size and volume fraction. Results show that recrystallization is completed after annealing 8 h at 650 °C and 30 min at 700 °C. Three types of precipitates were identified: large Ti(C,N), medium-size (Ti,V)(C,N) and small (Ti,V)C. The Ti/(Ti+V) atomic ratio in the (Ti,V)C precipitates decreases with increasing radius in the 1–15 nm range, which can be explained by the initial nucleation of a TiC-rich core. The average size of the (Ti,V)C precipitates increases, whereas the number density decreases during annealing. The volume fractions of the three types of precipitates were separately determined by the matrix dissolution method. The volume fractions of (Ti,V)C precipitates obtained by matrix dissolution are comparable even slightly more accurate than those obtained by SANS. The hardness first increases and then decreases when annealing at both temperatures, which can be correlated well with the observed microstructural and precipitate evolution.
- High strength low alloy steel
- Matrix dissolution
- Small angle neutron scattering
- Transmission electron microscopy