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Martensitic Stainless Steel
Description of material
VAL3 is high Chromium–Molybdenum martensitic stainless with a Carbon content capable of high hardness after heat treatment, together with more pitting corrosion resistance than other C-Cr martensitic grades.
All application where high hardness and corrosion resistance are indispensable, such as dental and surgical instruments, kitchen knives, parts for brakes, valves, plastic molds, parts for pumps, pump shafts, wear resistant devices, nozzles, gauges, conveyor chains, axles, food process equipment, guides, instruments, table and professional cutlery. VAL3 in the hardened and low temperature tempered condition, provides a hardness higher than VAL1 and VAL2A. This grade is widely used in the production of blades in professional cutlery manufacturing and in table cutlery thanks to better pitting corrosion resistance.
VAL3 has its maximum corrosion resistance when in the hardened + low temperature tempered condition and with its maximum hardness. Its use in the annealed condition or any other situation able to reduce the surface hardness and in high Chloride containing environments, should be avoided. VAL3 has good corrosion resistance in mild environments such as fresh water, industrial and rural atmospheres, petroleum products, gasoline fuel oil and alcohol. In addition, VAL3 has a fair pitting corrosion resistance thanks to a high PRE due to the Chromium and Molybdenum contents. If required, this grade could be supplied in the micro-resulphured condition but in the case of mirror finishing, such as table cutlery or similar purposes, this condition should be avoided. In the case of high polishability requirements, special grades such as VAL3CT processed by a special steel making operative practice with particular chemical balance and/or heat treatments should be chosen. It should be noted that this grade, as for every kind of stainless steel, surfaces should be free of contaminant and scale, heat tint, and passivated for optimum resistance to corrosion.
In the annealed condition, this grade has a moderate cold forming ability such as for cold heading or up-setting. A higher cold formability could be obtained after a long lasting annealing and very slow cooling in the furnace. It should be pointed out that VAL3 is highly prone to surface decarburization more so than other C-Cr martensitic grades: a protective atmosphere should be considered in the heat treatment of finished pieces.
VAL3S should be chosen if a good machinability were required because this property is lower in case of non-micro-resulphured grades, necessary for some special purposes. It’s important to know that the productivity gain depends on the type of machines used, the kind of tools used and their geometry, cutting fluids and the kind of machine operations on the pieces produced. The grinding and polishing of hardened + tempered material, at maximum values of hardness, must be carried out with great care in order to avoid the overheating of the surface of the piece resulting in poor corrosion resistance and/or grinding cracks.
This process for martensitic stainless grades is always risky and a special care must be applied in the choice of welding parameters. In any case, if a welding process were required, a preheating is mandatory and the part must be maintained at temperature and this must be followed by immediate annealing or tempering. Fillers of the same composition can be used to obtain mechanical properties close to that of the base metal. Alternatively, austenitic fillers may be used considering an inevitable reduction of these properties. In solid state joining such as Friction Welding, VAL3 provides a quality bond line. When friction welded with different grades, a tempering or annealing of the welded piece must be done in order to soften the martensitic structure of HAZ and bond line.
Blooms and ingots require a suitable preheating to avoid cracks and a slow cooling in the furnace after forging. Overheating must always be avoided, in order to reduce the risk of internal bursts. An improper cooling could result in stress cooling cracks. Large forgings and large cross – section shapes should be left to cool until their core reaches room temperature and, then, immediately, heat treated. A right and suitable heat treatment of pieces after the forging process creates a structure with no or little retained austenite avoiding delayed cracks.
VAL3 should be double tempered after hardening in order to reduce or avoid retained austenite, obtaining high values of hardness. Double tempering is not normally used in table cutlery production where a single one should be sufficient.