Since vanadium’s addition to steel increases the material’s strength, toughness, and flexibility, as well as its hardness and abrasion resistance, vanadium is employed in a wide variety of industries, with the metallurgical sector; being a third of total consumption. Vanadium is currently being used as a significant alloying element in a wide variety of steels, including high-carbon low-alloy steel, high-strength ribbed steel, bearing steel, spring steel, mold steel, Martensite heat-resistant steel, high-speed steel, and others.
Vanadium steel applications
Vanadium is an essential part of high-speed tool steel alloys. It prevents grain growth and improves red hardness, cutting ability, wear resistance, and service life in tungsten-containing high-speed tool steel. Almost all types of alloy mold steel, including hot work tool steel, cold work tool steel, and plastic mold steel, include between one to three percent vanadium. However, those with demanding applications may need as much as five percent. Vanadium is used to harden cold mold steel and hot mold steel.
Surgical instruments and tools, as well as a wide variety of cutting tools (drills, milling cutters, taps, tool bits, saw blades, gear cutters, planer, and router bits), are among the many applications for HSS’s high hardness (up to 60HRC) steel products.
There are just some places where you’ll find vanadium steel: axles, crankshafts, bicycle frames, gears, and other mechanical parts. The category of vanadium-alloyed steels can be broken down into two subcategories. Vanadium-rich high carbon steel alloys and high-speed tool steels. High-speed tool steels can be hardened to a hardness above 60 HRC. For example, the instruments and tools used in surgery are typically made of high-speed steel.
Vanadium carbides, abundant in these alloy steels, significantly improve their resistance to wear. The vanadium concentration of alloyed steels can reach up to 18%. Vanadium alloyed steels are sometimes used for making tools and knives. In addition, vanadium is used in specialty tool steels to generate robust, wear-resistant vanadium carbides.
The element Vanadium is widely utilized to increase tool steels’ durability. As a result, several tool sheets of steel with vanadium alloys are commercially available. In these steels, the vanadium-rich carbides that make them less likely to wear out are either formed as the residual melt solidifies or separately.
Vanadium’s ability to refine grain and improve temper resistance in heat-treated steels is a significant advantage. High strength and hardness can be attained through tempering, and refined grains contribute to this process by making the material more resistant to the effects of heat. These steels have a variable vanadium concentration between 0.03% and 0.30%.
Vanadium’s precipitation strengthening qualities are used in as-rolled and as-forged construction, OCTG, and power generating and transmission steels. These steels have an average vanadium concentration between 0.03% and 0.10% but can be higher.
For automotive steels, vanadium is used in different ways that depend on the final structure of the part.
Vanadium and high-strength low-alloy steels
For quite some time, high strength low alloy (HSLA) structural steels have used vanadium as an alloying element. Vanadium was the first micro-alloying element employed (other than aluminum).
Vanadium, on its own or in combination with other micro-alloying elements like aluminum, titanium, and niobium, adds strength to structural steels by precipitating nitrides and carbides.
Refining the grain structure of HSLA steels has the additional benefit of boosting their low-temperature toughness. Vanadium precipitates and other micro-alloying element precipitates can strengthen each other’s effects on steel, as seen when aluminum is added.
The precipitates of these two micro-alloys are utilized to modify the structure and properties of materials in other contexts, such as in vanadium niobium steel plates. Niobium carbide, for instance, makes it possible to achieve a small grain size, while vanadium carbo-nitride helps to strengthen precipitation.
Precipitous strengthening and grain size in vanadium-containing HSLA steels affect both toughness and strength. The grain size is linearly related to the vanadium and nitrogen content, and it is quite stable over a wide range of final rolling temperatures. Tensile and yield strength are improved by increasing nitrogen and vanadium levels, thanks to precipitation strengthening. It is generally accurate for steels over carbon content, while the toughness can be altered by changing temperature and cooling rate.
Strength in HSLA steels can be enhanced by decreasing the grain size of the ferrite component. In addition, if the vanadium to nitrogen ratio is kept at or above 4:1, strain aging due to nitrogen is not seen even in vanadium-containing steels with a high nitrogen concentration.