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Interfacial microstructure and mechanical properties of rotary inertia friction welded dissimilar 422 martensitic stainless steel to 4140 low alloy steel joints

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Materials Science and Engineering: A
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In this work, dissimilar rotary inertia friction welds between 422 martensitic stainless steel and 4140 martensitic low-alloy steel were made to fabricate prototype heavy-duty diesel engine pistons. The influence of the inertia friction welding process and post weld heat treatment (PWHT) temperature on the interfacial microstructure evolutions and corresponding effects on mechanical properties of the 422/4140 welds were evaluated in detail. Carbon diffused from the 4140 side to the 422 side during PWHT at 650 °C for 1.5 h, causing the formation of a hard carbide-rich layer on the 422 side, and a softer but discontinuous C-depleted layer the 4140 side. PWHT at 700 °C for 1.5 h greatly accelerated C diffusion across the interface relative to 650 °C, resulting in a thicker hard carbide-rich layer and a relatively thick and continuous layer of coarse C-depleted grains (ferrite) on the 4140 side. In addition, the PWHT temperature greatly influenced the tensile properties and fracture behavior of the welds, with the 650 °C PWHT-ed samples failing predominately in a ductile manner in the 4140 heat affected zone during tensile testing. Conversely, the 700 °C PWHT specimens exhibited a strength reduction compared with the 650 °C PWHT specimens because of additional coarsening of the interfacial ferrite layer and softening of the base materials during PWHT, with brittle fracture between the hard and soft layers the predominate failure mechanism. Based on the findings, a reduced PWHT temperature and/or time, minimizing the hardness differential of the base metals, and pre-heating the 422 steel prior to welding are the potential pathways to achieve a more optimal balance between desirable tempering and stress relief of the weld microstructure and undesirable C migration across the weld interface, and to reduce the strength mismatch across the weld.