The Role of Niobium in Cold Rolled TRIP Steel
In the recent years several new high strength steel grades have been developed, which exhibit improved cold formability and thus are especially suitable for the car body. These multi-phase steels have to be processed via continuous annealing lines. The best combination of strength and uniform elongation is obtained with ferrite-bainite-retained austenite multiphase steel, which rely on transformation induced plasticity (TRIP effect) during the cold forming operation. The production route for TRIP steel, which relies on two isothermal heat treatments, is explained as well as the role of the major alloying elements. In order to optimize the property combinations, microalloying with niobium is a successful means. Niobium increases the strength of the steel with 15 MPa per 0.01 %Nb and simultaneously provides also a higher amount of stable austenite, thus guaranteeing both, increased strength and formability. The metallurgical background for providing these results is explained. Even though the amount of high strength steel in automobiles is continuously increasing, the application of TRIP steel is still limited. However, the good experience in trials and first successful applications make an increased usage of this steel type also realistic, despite its relatively high production costs and reduced weldability.
K. Hulka, "The Role of Niobium in Cold Rolled TRIP Steel", Materials Science Forum, Vols. 473-474, pp. 91-102, 2005