The aim of the present work was to undertake a detailed investigation of the softening mechanisms during hot deformation of a 21Cr-10Ni-3Mo (steel A) and a 21Cr-8Ni-3Mo (steel B) austenite/ferrite duplex stainless steels containing about 60% and 30% of austenite, respectively. The steels were subjected to hot deformation in torsion performed at 900 ºC and 1200 ºC using a strain rate of 0.7 s-1 to several strain levels. Quantitative optical and transmission electron microscopy were used in the investigation. Austenite was observed to soften via dynamic recovery (DRV) and dynamic recrystallisation (DRX) accompanied by DRV for the deformation temperatures of 900 °C and 1200 °C, respectively, for the both steels studied. DRX of austenite largely occurred through strain-induced grain boundary migration, complemented by (multiple) twinning, and developed significantly faster in steel A than in steel B, indicating that considerably larger strains partitioned into austenite in the former steel during deformation at 1200 °C. The above softening mechanism was accompanied by the formation of DRX grains from subgrains along the austenite/ferrite interface and by large-scale subgrain coalescence. At 900°C, stressassisted phase transitions between austenite and ferrite were observed, characterised by dissolution of the primary austenite, formation of Widmanstätten secondary austenite and gradual globularisation of the microstructure with increasing strain. These processes appeared to be significantly more widespread in steel B. The softening mechanism within ferrite for the both steels studied was classified as “continuous DRX”, characterised by a gradual increase in misorientations between neighbouring subgrains with strain, for the both deformation temperatures.
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