Boron is added to steel as ferroboron (~12-24% B). As the ferroboron addition lacks protective elements it is usually added after oxygen scavengers have been added. Proprietary additives also exist with oxygen/nitrogen scavengers - one such contains 2% B plus Al, Ti, Si. Oxygen, carbon, and nitrogen react with boron in steel to form B2O3 (boron trioxide); Fe3(CB) (iron boroncementite) and Fe23(CB)6 (iron boroncarbide); and BN (boron nitride) respectively.
Soluble boron arranges in steels along grain boundaries. This retards the γ-α transformations (austenite to ferrite transformation) by diffusion and therefore increases the hardenability, with an optimal range of ~ 0.0003 to 0.003% B. Additionally Fe2B has been found to precipitate at grain boundaries, which may also retard the γ-α transformations . At higher B values Fe23(CB)6 is thought to form, which promotes ferrite nucleation, and so adversely affects hardenability.
Boron is effective at very low concentrations - 30 ppm B can replace an equivalent 0.4% Cr, 0.5% C, or 0.12% V. 30 ppm B has also been shown to increase depth of hardening (~ +50%) in a low alloy steel - thought to be due to its retardation of the transformation from martensite to softer bainite, ferrite, or pearlite.
The presence of carbon in steel reduces the relative effectiveness of boron in promoting hardenability.
The Fe-B phase diagram has two eutectic points - at 17% (mol) m.p. 1149C; and 63.5% boron m.p. ~1500C. There is a peak m.p. at 1:1 Fe:B, and an inflexion at 33% B, corresponding to FeB and Fe2B respectively.
Boron alloy steels include carbon, low alloy including HSLA, carbon-manganese and tool steels. Because of boron's high neutron absorption boron is added to stainless steels used in the nuclear industry - up to 4% but more typically 0.5 to 1%.
Boron steels find use in the car industry, typically as strengthening elements such as around the door frames, and in reclining seats. As of the mid 2000s it was in common use by european car manufacturers. The introduction of boron steel elements introduced issues for accident scene rescuers as its high strength and hardness resisted many conventional cutting tools (hydraulic shears) in use at that time.
Flat boron steel for automotive use is hot stamped in cooled molds from the austentic state (obtained by heating to 900-950C). A typical steel 22MnB5 shows a 2.5x increase in tensile strength after this process, from a base of 600MPa. Stamping can be done in an inert atmosphere, otherwise abrasive scale forms - alternatively a protective Al-Si coating can be used. (see aluminized steel). Introduction of high tensile strength hot stamped mild manganese boron steel (22MnB5) (up to proof strength 1200MPa, ultimate tensile strength 1500MPa) allowed weight saving through down gauging in the European car industry.
Boron steel is used in the shackles of some padlocks for cut resistance Boron steel padlocks of sufficient shackle thickness (15mm or more) are highly hacksaw, bolt cutter, and hammer-resistant, although they can be defeated with an angle grinder.
- "Boron in Steel: Part One", www.totalmateria.com, Nov 2007
- "Boron in Steel: Part Two", www.totalmateria.com, Dec 2007
- Watson, Len, "Boron Steel in Vehicles" (PDF), www.resqmed.com, archived from the original (PDF) on 2018-12-22, retrieved 2019-05-17
- "Boron Steel in Vehicles" (PDF), Technical Document 01/14 boron Steel, Rescue Organisation Ireland (1)
- Altan, Taylan (Jan 2007), "R&D Update: Hot-stamping boron-alloyed steels for automotive parts - Part II", Stamoing Journal
- Taylor, T.; Fourlaris, G.; Evans, P.; Bright, G. (2014), "New generation ultrahigh strength boron steel for automotive hot stamping technologies", Materials Science and Technology, 30 (7): 818–826, doi:10.1179/1743284713Y.0000000409
- "Choose the Best Padlock", www.masterlock.com, Master Lock