Journal of the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
On-line version ISSN 2411-9717
Print version ISSN 0038-223X
The ferrite-pearlite microstructure is the most popular microstructure for alloys used in structural applications, including railway wagon wheels. These alloys have been designed through alloying and thermomechanical processing to have a refined microstructure. Ferritepearlite alloys are low cost, weldable, have good fabricability, and are reliable under extreme conditions. Given these performance attributes, it seems unlikely then that their dominant position as structural steels would ever be challenged by alternative microstructures. One major achievement in the development of ferrite-pearlite steels has been in the refinement of their interlamellar spacing to very fine distances of the order of < 0.3 μηι. A refined microstructure increases the hardness of the alloy, thus increasing its life under wear conditions. The interlamellar spacing in pearlitic steels has, however, been refined almost to its theoretical limit. The increasing demand for speed and increased axle loading on railway wagons requires the use of stronger, tougher, and more durable materials. This has opened the window for the development of novel bainitic steels. Bainitic alloys have a higher level of microstructural refinement than pearlitic ones. They have shown to have good wear resistance and rolling-contact fatigue resistance, and high toughness. This paper will discuss the progress to date on the development of bainitic railway wheel alloys. Four alloy chemistries have been chosen for possible further development.
Keywords : Bainite; railway wheel; Class B; ferrite-pearlite; Brinell hardness.