The formation of ultrafine grained steels is an area of intense research around the World. There are a number of methods to produce grain sizes of approximately 1 µm, ranging from extreme thermal and deformation cycles to more typical thermomechanical processes. This paper reviews the status of the production of ultrafine grained steels through relatively simple thermomechanical processing. It is shown that this requires deformation within the Ae3 to Ar3 temperature range for a given alloy. The formation of ultrafine ferrite involves a dynamic transformation of a significant volume fraction of the austenite to ferrite. This dynamic strain induced transformation arises from the introduction of additional intragranular nucleation sites. It is possible that the deformation also hinders the growth or coarsening of the ferrite and may also lead to dynamic recrystallization of the ferrite. The most likely commercial exploitation of ultrafine ferrite would appear to rely on the formation of a critical volume fraction of dynamic strain induced ferrite followed by controlled cooling to ensure this is maintained to room temperature and to also form other secondary phases, such as martensite, bainite and/or retained austenite to improve the formability.
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