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This chapter describes the effects that can be observed by light microscopy when a steel in the hardened condition, consisting of martensite and possibly some retained austenite, is heated at subcritical temperatures. It includes micrographs that illustrate the effect of carbide precipitation, the decomposition of retained austenite, and recovery and recrystallization. It also includes images that reveal the characteristic structures produced by tempering medium-carbon hypoeutectoid and hypereutectoid steels as well as the effects of plastic deformation, austenitic grain size, and temper brittleness.

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