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Heat treatment is the most common way of altering the mechanical, physical, and even chemical properties of steels. This chapter describes the changes that occur in carbon and low-alloy steels during conventional heat treatments. It explains how austenite decomposition largely defines the final microstructure, and how the associated phase transformations are driven by nucleation and growth processes. It describes diffusionless and diffusive growth mechanisms and provides detailed information on the properties, structure, and behaviors of the transformation products produced, namely martensite and bainite. It also discusses the formation of austenite, the control and measurement of austenitic grain size, the...

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