Dual Phase (DP) steels have a microstructure consisting of a ferritic matrix with martensitic islands as a hard second phase, shown schematically in Figure 1. The soft ferrite phase is generally continuous, giving these steels excellent ductility. When these steels deform, strain is concentrated in the lower-strength ferrite phase surrounding the islands of martensite, creating the unique high initial work-hardening rate (n-value) exhibited by these steels. Figure 2 is a micrograph showing the ferrite and martensite constituents.

Figure 1: Schematic of a dual phase steel microstructure showing islands of martensite in a matrix of ferrite.

Figure 1: Schematic of a Dual Phase steel microstructure showing islands of martensite in a matrix of ferrite.

Figure 2: Micrograph of Dual Phase steel

Figure 2: Micrograph of Dual Phase Steel

Hot rolled DP steels do not have the benefit of an annealing cycle, so the dual phase microstructure must be achieved by controlled cooling from the austenite phase after exiting the hot strip mill finishing stands and before coiling. This typically requires a more highly alloyed chemistry than cold rolled DP steels require. Higher alloying is generally associated with a change in welding practices.

Continuously annealed cold-rolled and hot-dip coated Dual Phase steels are produced by controlled cooling from the two-phase ferrite plus austenite (α + γ) region to transform some austenite to ferrite before a rapid cooling transforms the remaining austenite to martensite. Due to the production process, small amounts of other phases (bainite and retained austenite) may be present.

Higher strength dual phase steels are typically achieved by increasing the martensite volume fraction. Depending on the composition and process route, steels requiring enhanced capability to resist cracking on a stretched edge (as typically measured by hole expansion capacity) can have a microstructure containing significant quantities of bainite.

The work hardening rate plus excellent elongation creates DP steels with much higher ultimate tensile strengths than conventional steels of similar yield strength. Figure 3 compares the engineering stress-strain curve for HSLA steel to a DP steel curve of similar yield strength. The DP steel exhibits higher initial work hardening rate, higher ultimate tensile strength, and lower YS/TS ratio than the HSLA with comparable yield strength. Additional engineering and true stress-strain curves for DP steel grades are presented in Figures 4 and 5.

Figure 3: A comparison of stress strain curves for mild steel, HSLA 350/450, and DP 350/600

Figure 3: A comparison of stress strain curves for mild steel, HSLA 350/450, and DP 350/600K-1

 

Figure 4:  Engineering stress-strain curves for a series of DP steel grades.S-5, V-1  Sheet thicknesses: DP 250/450 and DP 500/800 = 1.0mm. All other steels were 1.8-2.0mm.

Figure 4:  Engineering stress-strain curves for a series of DP steel grades.S-5, V-1  Sheet thicknesses: DP 250/450 and DP 500/800 = 1.0mm. All other steels were 1.8-2.0mm.

 

Figure 5:  True stress-strain curves for a series of DP steel grades.S-5, V-1  Sheet thicknesses: DP 250/450 and DP 500/800 = 1.0mm. All other steels were 1.8-2.0mm.

Figure 5:  True stress-strain curves for a series of DP steel grades.S-5, V-1 Sheet thicknesses: DP 250/450 and DP 500/800 = 1.0mm. All other steels were 1.8-2.0mm.

 

DP and other AHSS also have a bake hardening effect that is an important benefit compared to conventional higher strength steels. The extent of the bake hardening effect in AHSS depends on an adequate amount of forming strain for the specific chemistry and thermal history of the steel.

In DP steels, carbon enables the formation of martensite at practical cooling rates by increasing the hardenability of the steel. Manganese, chromium, molybdenum, vanadium, and nickel, added individually or in combination, also help increase hardenability. Carbon also strengthens the martensite as a ferrite solute strengthener, as do silicon and phosphorus. These additions are carefully balanced, not only to produce unique mechanical properties, but also to maintain the generally good resistance spot welding capability. However, when welding the higher strength grades (DP 700/1000 and above) to themselves, the spot weldability may require adjustments to the welding practice.

Examples of current production grades of DP steels and typical automotive applications include:

DP 300/500 Roof outer, door outer, body side outer, package tray, floor panel
DP 350/600 Floor panel, hood outer, body side outer, cowl, fender, floor reinforcements
DP 500/800 Body side inner, quarter panel inner, rear rails, rear shock reinforcements
DP 600/980 Safety cage components (B-pillar, floor panel tunnel, engine cradle, front sub-frame package tray, shotgun, seat)
DP 700/1000 Roof rails
DP 800/1180 B-Pillar upper

 

Some of the specifications describing uncoated cold rolled 1st Generation dual phase (DP) steel are included below, with the grades typically listed in order of increasing minimum tensile strength and ductility. Different specifications may exist which describe hot or cold rolled, uncoated or coated, or steels of different strengths. Many automakers have proprietary specifications which encompass their requirements.

  • ASTM A1088, with the terms Dual phase (DP) steel Grades 440T/250Y, 490T/290Y, 590T/340Y, 780T/420Y, and 980T/550YA-22
  • EN 10338, with the terms HCT450X, HCT490X, HCT590X, HCT780X, HCT980X, HCT980XG, and HCT1180XD-6
  • JIS G3135, with the terms SPFC490Y, SPFC540Y, SPFC590Y, SPFC780Y and SPFC980YJ-3
  • JFS A2001, with the terms JSC590Y, JSC780Y, JSC980Y, JSC980YL, JSC980YH, JSC1180Y, JSC1180YL, and JSC1180YHJ-23
  • VDA 239-100, with the terms CR290Y490T-DP, CR330Y590T-DP, CR440Y780T-DP, CR590Y980T-DP, and CR700Y980T-DPV-3
  • SAE J2745, with terms Dual Phase (DP) 440T/250Y, 490T/290Y, 590T/340Y, 6907/550Y, 780T/420Y, and 980T/550YS-18
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