carbon-content increases the shock-resisting power decreases. Here, as in all cases, the carbon-content must be the result of a compromise, neither so small that the rail flattens and wears out like lead, nor so great that it snaps like glass. Boiler plates undergo in shaping and assembling an intermediate degree of distortion, and therefore they must be given an intermediate carbon-content, following the general rule that the carbon-content and hence the strength should be as great as is consistent with retaining the degree of ductility and the shock-resisting power which the object will need in actual use. Thus the typical carbon-content may be taken as about 0.05% for rivets and tubes, 0.20% for boiler plates, and 0.50 to 0.75% for rails, implying the presence of 0.75% of cementite in the first two, 3% in the third and 7.5% to 11.25% in the last.
19. Carbon-Content of Hardened Steels.—Turning from these cases in which the steel is used in the slowly cooled state, so that it is a mixture of pearlite with ferrite or cementite, i.e. is pearlitic, to those in which it is used in the hardened or martensitic state, we find that the carbon-content is governed by like considerations. Railway car springs, which are exposed to great shock, have typically about 0.75% of carbon; common tool steel, which is exposed to less severe shock, has usually between 0.75 and 1.25%; file steel, which is subject to but little shock, and has little demanded of it but to bite hard and stay hard, has usually from 1.25 to 1.50%. The carbon-content of steel is rarely greater than this, lest the brittleness be excessive. But beyond this are the very useful, because very fusible, cast irons with from 3 to 4% of carbon, the embrittling effect of which is much lessened by its being in the state of graphite.
20. Slag or Cinder, a characteristic component of wrought iron, which usually contains from 0.20 to 2.00% of it, is essentially a silicate of iron (ferrous silicate), and is present in wrought iron simply because this product is made by welding together pasty granules of iron in a molten bath of such slag, without ever melting the resultant mass or otherwise giving the envelopes of slag thus imprisoned a chance to escape completely.
21. Graphite, nearly pure carbon, is characteristic of “gray cast iron,” in which it exists as a nearly continuous skeleton of very thin laminated plates or flakes (fig. 27), usually curved, and forming from 2.50% to 3.50% of the whole. As these flakes readily split open, when a piece of this iron is broken rupture passes through them, with the result that, even though the graphite may form only some 3% of the mass by weight (say 10% by volume), practically nothing but graphite is seen in the fracture. Hence the weakness and the dark-grey fracture of this iron, and hence, by brushing this fracture with a wire brush and so detaching these loosely clinging flakes of graphite, the colour can be changed nearly to the very light-grey of pure iron. There is rarely any important quantity of graphite in commercial steels. (See § 26.)
22. Further Illustration of the Iron-Carbon Diagram.—In order to illustrate further the meaning of the diagram (fig. 1), let us follow by means of the ordinate QUw the undisturbed slow cooling of molten hyper-eutectoid steel containing 1% of carbon, for simplicity assuming that no graphite forms and that the several transformations occur promptly as they fall due. When the gradually falling temperature reaches 1430° (q), the mass begins to freeze as γ-iron or austenite, called “primary” to distinguish it from that which forms part of the eutectic. But the freezing, instead of completing itself at a fixed temperature as that of pure water does, continues until the temperature sinks to r on the line Aa. Thus the iron has rather a freezing-range than a freezing-point. Moreover, the freezing is “selective.” The first particles of austenite to freeze contain about 0.33% of carbon (p). As freezing progresses, at each successive temperature reached the frozen austenite has the carbon-content of the point on Aa which that temperature abscissa cuts, and the still molten part or “mother-metal” has the carbon-content horizontally opposite this on the line AB. In other words, the composition of the frozen part and that of the mother-metal respectively are p and q at the beginning of the freezing, and r and t′ at the end; and during freezing they slide along Aa and AB from p to r and from q to t′. This, of course, brings the final composition of the frozen austenite when freezing is complete exactly to that which the molten mass had before freezing began.
The heat evolved by this process of solidification retards the fall of temperature; but after this the rate of cooling remains regular until T (750°) on the line Sa (Ar3) is reached, when a second retardation occurs, due to the heat liberated by the passage within the pasty mass of part of the iron and carbon from a state of mere solution to that of definite combination in the ratio Fe3C, forming microscopic particles of cementite, while the remainder of the iron and carbon continue dissolved in each other as austenite. This formation of cementite continues as the temperature falls, till at about 690° C., (U, called Ar2−1) so much of the carbon (in this case about 0.10%) and of the iron have united in the form of cementite, that the composition of the remaining solid-solution or “mother-metal” of austenite has reached that of the eutectoid, hardenite; i.e. it now contains 0.90 % of carbon. The cementite which has thus far been forming may be called “pro-eutectoid” cementite, because it forms before the remaining austenite reaches the eutectoid composition. As the temperature now falls past 690°, this hardenite mother-metal in turn splits up, after the fashion of eutectics, into alternate layers of ferrite and cementite grouped together as pearlite, so that the mass as a whole now becomes a mixture of pearlite with cementite. The iron thus liberated, as the ferrite of this pearlite, changes simultaneously to α-ferrite. The passage of this large quantity of carbon and iron, 0.90% of the former and 12.6 of the latter, from a state of mere solution as hardenite to one of definite chemical union as cementite, together with the passage of the iron itself from the γ to the α state, evolves so much heat as actually to heat the mass up so that it brightens in a striking manner. This phenomenon is called the “recalescence.”
This change from austenite to ferrite and cementite, from the γ through the β to the α state, is of course accompanied by the loss of the “hardening power,” i.e. the power of being hardened by sudden cooling, because the essence of this hardening is the retention of the β state. As shown in Alloys, Pl., fig. 13, the slowly cooled steel now consists of kernels of pearlite surrounded by envelopes of the cementite which was born of the austenite in cooling from T to U.
23. To take a second case, molten hypo-eutectoid steel of 0.20% of carbon on freezing from K to x passes in the like manner to the state of solid austenite, γ-iron with this 0.20% of carbon dissolved in it. Its further cooling undergoes three spontaneous retardations, one at K′ (Ar3 about 820°), at which part of the iron begins to isolate itself within the austenite mother-metal in the form of envelopes of β-ferrite, i.e. of free iron of the β allotropic modification, which surrounds the kernels or grains of the residual still undecomposed part of the austenite. At the second retardation, K″ (Ar2, about 770°) this ferrite changes to the normal magnetic α-ferrite, so that the mass as a whole becomes magnetic. Moreover, the envelopes of ferrite which began forming at Ar3 continue to broaden by the accession of more and more ferrite born from the austenite progressively as the temperature sinks, till, by the time when Ar1 (about 690°) is reached, so much free ferrite has been formed that the remaining mother-metal has been enriched to the composition of hardenite, i.e. it now contains 0.90% of carbon. Again, as the temperature in turn falls past Ar1 this hardenite mother-metal splits up into cementite and ferrite grouped together as pearlite, with the resulting recalescence, and the mass, as shown in Alloys, Pl., fig. 12, then consists of kernels of pearlite surrounded by envelopes of ferrite. All these phenomena are parallel with those of 1.00% carbon steel at this same critical point Ar1. As such steel cools slowly past Ar3, Ar2 and Ar1, it loses its hardening power progressively.
In short, from Ar3 to Ar1 the excess substance ferrite or cementite, in hypo- and hyper-eutectoid steels respectively, progressively crystallizes out as a network or skeleton within the austenite mother-metal, which thus progressively approaches the composition of hardenite, reaching it at Ar1, and there splitting up into ferrite and cementite interstratified as pearlite. Further, any ferrite liberated at Ar3 changes there from γ to β, and any present at Ar2 changes from β to α. Between H and S, Ar3 and Ar2 occur together, as do Ar2 and Ar1 between S and P′ and Ar3, Ar2 and Ar1 at S itself; so that these critical points in these special cases are called Ar3−2, Ar2−1 and Ar3−2−1 respectively. The corresponding critical points which occur during rise of temperature, with the reverse transformations, are called Ac1, Ac2, Ac3, &c. A (Tschernoff) is the generic name, r refers to falling temperature (refroidissant) and c to rising temperature (chauffant, Osmond).
24. The freezing of molten cast iron of 2.50% of carbon goes on selectively like that of these steels which we have been studying, till the enrichment of the molten mother-metal in carbon brings its carbon-contents to B, 4.30%, the eutectic carbon-content, i.e. that of the greatest fusibility or lowest melting-point. At this point selection ceases; the remaining molten metal freezes as a whole, and in freezing splits up into a conglomerate eutectic of (1) austenite of about 2.2 % of carbon, and therefore saturated with that element, and (2) cementite; and with this eutectic is mixed the “primary” austenite which froze out as the temperature sank from v to v′. The white-hot, solid, but soft mass is now a conglomerate of (1) “primary” austenite, (2) “eutectic” austenite and (3) “eutectic” cementite. As the temperature sinks still farther, pro-eutectoid cementite (see § 22) forms progressively in the austenite both primary and eutectic, and this pro-eutectoid cementite as it comes into existence tends to assemble in the form of a network enveloping the kernels or grains of the austenite from which it springs. The reason for its birth, of course, is that the solubility of carbon in austenite progressively decreases as the temperature falls, from about 2.2% at 1130° (a), to 0.90% at 690° (Ar1), as shown by the line aS, with the consequence that the austenite keeps rejecting in the form of this pro-eutectoid cementite all carbon in excess of its saturation-point for the existing temperature. Here the mass consists of (1) primary austenite, (2) eutectic austenite and cementite interstratified and (3) pro-eutectoid cementite.
This formation of cementite through the rejection of carbon by both the primary and the eutectic austenite continues quite as in the case of 1.00% carbon steel, with impoverishment of the austenite to the hardenite or eutectoid ratio, and the splitting up of that hardeniteinto pearlite at Ar1, so that the mass when cold finally consists of (1)
- Note the distinction between the “eutectic” or alloy of lowest freezing-point, 1130°, B, with 4.30% of carbon, and the “eutectoid,” hardenite and pearlite, or alloy of lowest transformation-point, 690° S, with 0.90% of carbon. (See § 17.)