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The microstructure of the surface of drilled holes generated under different drilling conditions in carbon steels has been investigated. It is found that the surface microstructure depends strongly on the drilling parameters and the hardness of the matrix. White etching layers, composed of an equiaxed nanocrystalline structure layer with an average grain size of the order of several 10 nm and a submicron grained layer containing fresh martensite along the depth, formed on the hole surfaces during drilling at moderate to high cutting speed in carbon steels with high matrix hardness. The existence of a high content of austenite at the hole surface suggests that dynamic phase transformation (DPT) from body-centered cubic to face-centered cubic occurred during high-speed drilling. It is proposed that the ultrafine structure layer on the surface of a drilled hole is produced by severe plastic deformation-induced DPT together with a large strain gradient and high strain rate.
Journal: Acta Materialia - Volume 55, Issue 4, February 2007, Pages 1397–1406