The Casting and Hot Forging of Low-Carbon Copper-Bearing Steel and Its Substructural Characterization

Pawan Kumar, Mamookho Elizabeth Makhatha, Shivashankarayya Hiremath, Vishwanatha H. M

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The casting of metal alloys followed by hot forging is a widely used manufacturing technology to produce a homogeneous microstructure. The combination of mechanical and thermal energy envisages the microstructural properties of metal alloys. In the present investigation, a metal alloy of composition 0.05C-1.52Cu-1.51Mn (in weight %) was cast in an induction furnace using a zirconia crucible. The melt pool was monitored using optical emission spectroscopy (OES) to maintain the desired composition. The as-cast block was then subjected to forging under a pneumatic hammer of 0.5 t capacity so that any casting defects were eliminated. The as-cast block was reheated to a temperature of 1050 °C and held at that temperature for 6 h to homogenize, followed by hammering with a 50% strain using a pneumatic hammer. The microhardness was calculated using a Vickers microhardness testing apparatus. The microstructure characterization of the processed alloy was carried out using an optical microscope, electron backscattered diffraction (EBSD), energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDXA), and a transmission electron microscope (TEM). The sample for optical microscopy was cut using a diamond cutter grinding machine and surface polishing was carried out using emery paper. Further, mechanical polishing was performed to prepare the samples for EBSD using a TEGRAPOL polishing machine. The EBSD apparatus was operated at a 20 kV accelerating voltage, 25 mm from the gun, and with a 60 µ aperture size. HKL Technology Channel 5 Software was used for the post-processing of EBSD maps. The procedure of standard polishing for OES and TEM sample preparation was followed. Recrystallization envisages equiaxed grain formation in hot forging; hence, the strain-free grains were observed in the strained matrix. The lower distribution of recrystallized grains indicated that the driving force for recrystallization was not abundant enough to generate a fully recrystallized microstructure. The fractional distribution of the misorientation angle between 15 and 60° confirms the formation of grain boundaries (having a misorientation angle greater than 15°) and dislocations/subgrain/substructures (having a misorientation angle less than 15°). The fraction of misorientation angle distribution was higher between the angles 0.5 and 6.5°; afterwards, it decreased for higher angles. The substructure was observed in the vicinity of grain boundaries. The softening process released certain strains, but still, the dislocation was observed to be deposited mostly in the vicinity of grain boundaries and at the grain interior. The fine precipitates of the microalloying element copper were observed in the range of size in nanometers. However, the densities of these precipitates were limited and most of these precipitates were deposited at the grain interior. The microhardness of 210.8 Hv and mean subgrain size of 1.61 µ were observed the enhanced microhardness was due to the limited recrystallized grains and accumulation of dislocations/subgrain/substructures.

Original languageEnglish
Article number414
JournalJournal of Composites Science
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2023


  • economic growth
  • forging
  • hot forging
  • low-carbon copper-bearing steel
  • metal alloy casting
  • precipitation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Engineering (miscellaneous)


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