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Nordic Community for Fast Steel Heat Treatments

The constant development of technology creates a need for the steel industry to keep improving itself. Steel manufacturers compete in developing the strongest, toughest and most ductile products. There is also a competition in the industry for better cost efficiency. This has led to a trend in achieving higher strength without losing the formability or increasing the production costs.

Attributes of polycrystalline metals can be altered by controling the metal's grain size. This has long been recognized as a method to create materials with the mentioned desired properties. One of the key technologies to refine the grain size is a so-called "fast steel heat treatment", where annealing is made by using a high heating rate without any holding stages. Annealing technology, also known as induction heating, and especially control technology are opening up new commercial possibilities for steel manufacturing. Induction, resistance and laser heating allow also pre- and post-treatments for fabricated steel products, which in turn gives many advantages both in manufacturing processes and usability. The main objective of the first project was the establishment of a Nordic Community for Fast Heat Treatments, NorFaST-HT, which has resources and expertise for customer based heat treatment design and simulation.

Specific objectives of study and focus for the community are the following:

Induction and resistance heating in steel production (industrial)
  • Replication of successful laboratory phenomena in hopes of creating next generation materials and processes
  • Production cost comparison between induction and resistance heating and current commercial processes
  • Processing time and flexibility between technologies
  • Energy efficient induction technologies
  • Future outlook of the industry
  • Short annealing from material point of view
  • Effect of heating rate (HR) and holding time on grain refinement
  • Effect of HR and holding time on distribution of alloying elements and further on ferrite morphologies
  • Effect of HR and holding time on texture and tempering structures
  • Partially recrystallized structures (strength-ductility optimization) and cold forming
  • Local heat treatments (industrial)
  • Heat treatment of welded cell structures and beams
  • Improving formability by local softening
  • Hot forming
  • Local hardening (surface, through thickness)
  • Residual stress relieving
  • Local annealing together with cutting