Quantitative SAXS Analysis of Precipitate Characteristics Limiting Hot Ductility in HSLA Steels Containing V, Nb & NbTi

Alyssa Stubbers, T. John Balk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Hot ductility behavior between 700 and 1 050°C is governed by precipitation and phase transformation, which can cause cracking and limit steel processing in other ways. Characterization of this precipitation with conventional microscopy techniques is difficult due to the limited particle size, usually occurring on the nanometer scale. Casting simulation and hot tension testing were performed using a Gleeble 3500 to generate a property profile for high-strength low alloy (HSLA) steels containing Nb, Ti, V, and N. Small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) was then used to characterize precipitates in Gleeble-tested samples in order to evaluate relationships between hot ductility measurements and precipitate size, spacing, and volume fraction. SAXS results showed that interparticle spacing and volume fraction were the most significant factors influencing ductility in all tested grades. Specimens with reduction-in-area measurements ranging from 3–90% exhibited a range of particle spacing data from 5–80 nm and precipitate volume fraction from 0.001–0.03%. It was observed that particle spacing of 10–20 nm and a volume fraction of 0.01% were the most detrimental to hot ductility. Significant outcomes of the current study are that precipitate density may be the most significant factor limiting ductility and that laboratory-scale SAXS measurement represents a viable method for bulk precipitate characterization.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1044-1053
Number of pages10
JournalISIJ International
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Iron and Steel Institute of Japan. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons.


  • HSLA steel
  • SAXS
  • precipitation
  • quantitative analysis
  • small-angle X-ray scattering

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Metals and Alloys
  • Materials Chemistry


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