From Sintered Iron to High Performance PM Steels

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Since low alloyed sintered steels were introduced in the market of the structural parts, we have followed the evolution of a material with poor mechanical properties and any uniformity (in the sense of reproducibility) to materials that today are produced with high reliability and performance. The working efficiency could be equivalent in many cases with the best wrought steel, and maintaining a good margin in terms of cost and competitively. In this paper a complete review of the topic is accomplished, from the early times when the first parts were made by plain iron or iron-carbon, going through the different alloying systems: Fe-Cu, Fe-P, Fe-Cu-Ni-Mo, and more recently Fe-Cr-Mo and Fe-Mn. The development in processing routes has been considered too. The main milestones in the field of new alloying systems have been: 1) the introduction of Cu in 60- 70‟s, 2) the new complex systems with Cu-Ni-Mo in the 80‟s and 3) the introduction of alloying elements with high oxygen affinity (in the late 90‟s). Regarding the milestones in processing could be considered: 1) the development of new mixing procedures, 2) the warm compaction and high velocity compaction, 3) the improvements in sintering control and high temperature sintering. Several decades of research and innovation, acting on the processing system (mixing, pressing, sintering, post-sintering operations,...) and on the alloying system (from the earliest times with plain iron to complex systems used today), has allowed us to have a highly competitive materials, in terms of performance, and processes in terms of cost. The future is still open to new developments.
Proceedings of: 4th International Conference on Powder Metallurgy (RoPM 2009).
Powder metallurgy steels, Low alloyed steels, High performance, Master alloys
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Chicinaş, I. & Brânduşan, L. (eds.) (2011). Researches in Powder Metallurgy. (Materials Science Forum, 672). Switzerland: Trans Tech Publications, 3-11.