Anisotropie embrittlement in high-hardness ESR 4340 steel forgings

G. B. Olson*, A. A. Anctil, T. S. DeSisto, E. B. Kula

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


ESR 4340 steel forgings tempered to a hardness of HRC 55 exhibit a severe loss of tensile ductility in the short transverse direction which is strain-rate and humidity dependent. The anisotropy is also reflected in blunt-notch Charpy impact energy, but is absent in the sharp-crack fracture toughness. Brittle behavior is associated with regions of smooth intergranular fracture which are aligned with microstructural banding. Scanning Auger microprobe analysis indicates some intergranular segregation of phosphorus and sulfur in these regions. The anisotropic embrittlement is attributed to an interaction of nonequilibrium segregation on solidification with local equilibrium segregation at grain boundaries during austenitizing. This produces defective regions of enhanced intergranular impurity segregation which are oriented during forging. The regions are prone to brittle fracture under impact conditions and abnormal sensitivity to environmental attack during low strain-rate deformation. A relatively sparse distribution of these defects (∼10cm-3) accounts for the discrepancy between smooth bar and blunt-notch tests vs sharp-crack tests. Isotropie properties are restored by homogenization treatment. For application of these steels at extreme hardness levels, homogenization treatment is essential.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1661-1669
Number of pages9
JournalMetallurgical Transactions A
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1983

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering


Dive into the research topics of 'Anisotropie embrittlement in high-hardness ESR 4340 steel forgings'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this