Microstructure and Local Mechanical Properties of the Heat-Affected Zone of a Resistance Spot Welded Medium-Mn Steel

Materials (Basel). 2021 Jun 17;14(12):3362. doi: 10.3390/ma14123362.


The properties of the heat-affected zone (HAZ) are reported to have a great influence on the mechanical performance of resistance spot welded advanced high strength steels. Therefore, in the present work, the HAZ of a medium-Mn steel is characterized regarding its microstructure and its mechanical properties depending on the distance to the fusion zone (FZ). In order to obtain the local mechanical properties of the HAZ, samples were heat-treated in a joule-heating thermal simulator using different peak temperatures to physically simulate the microstructure of the HAZ. By comparing the microstructure and the hardness of these heat-treated samples and the HAZ, the local peak temperatures within the HAZ could be determined. Subsequently, tensile tests were conducted, and the austenite phase fraction was measured magnetically on the physically simulated HAZ samples in order to determine the local mechanical properties of the HAZ. As verified by energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy, peak temperatures above 1200 °C led to a uniform distribution of manganese, resulting in a predominantly martensitic microstructure with high strength and low total elongation after quenching. Below 1100 °C, the diffusion of manganese is restricted, and considerable fractions of austenite remain stable. The austenite fraction increases almost linearly with decreasing peak temperature, which leads to an increase of the total elongation and to a slight decrease in the strength, depending on the distance to the FZ. Temperatures below 700 °C exhibit hardly any effect on the initial microstructure and mechanical properties.

Keywords: heat-affected zone (HAZ); local mechanical properties; medium-Mn steel; resistance spot welding (RSW); third-generation advanced high strength steels (AHSS).

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