Zn diffusion and α-Fe(Zn) layer growth during annealing of Zn-coated B steel

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Janik, Vit ; Lan, Yongjun ; Beentjes, Peter ; Norman, David ; Hensen, Guido ; Sridhar, Seetharaman (2016)

Direct hot press forming of Zn-coated 22MnB5 steels is impeded by micro-cracks that occur in the substrate due to the presence of Zn during the forming process. A study was therefore undertaken to quantify concentration of Zn across the α-Fe(Zn) coating and on grain boundaries in the α-Fe(Zn) layer and the underlying γ-Fe(Zn) substrate after isothermal annealing of Zn-coated 22MnB5 at 1173 K (900 °C) and to link the Zn distribution to the amount and type of micro-cracks observed in deformed samples. Finite difference model was developed to describe Zn diffusion and the growth of the α-Fe(Zn) layer. The penetration of Zn into the γ-Fe(Zn) substrate after 600 seconds annealing at 1173 K (900 °C) through bulk diffusion is estimated to be 3 μm, and the diffusion depth of Zn on the γ-Fe(Zn) grain boundaries is estimated to be 6 μm, which is significantly shorter than the maximum length (15 to 50 μm) of the micro-cracks formed in the severely stressed conditions, indicating that the Zn diffusion into the γ-Fe(Zn) from the α-Fe(Zn) during annealing is not correlated to the depth of micro-cracks. On the other hand, the maximum amount of Zn present in α-Fe(Zn) layer decreases with annealing time as the layer grows and Zn oxidizes, and the amount of Zn-enriched areas inside the α-Fe(Zn) layer is reduced leading to reduced length of cracking. Solid-Metal-Induced Embrittlement mechanism is proposed to explain the benefit of extended annealing on reduced depth of micro-crack penetration into the γ-Fe(Zn) substrate.
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