T (Time) T (Temperature) T (Transformation) diagram is a plot of temperature versus the logarithm of time for a steel alloy of definite composition.
It is used to determine when transformations begin and end for an isothermal (constant temperature) heat treatment of a previously austenitized alloy.
When austenite is cooled slowly to a temperature below LCT (Lower Critical Temperature), the structure that is formed is Pearlite. As the cooling rate increases, the pearlite transformation temperature gets lower. The microstructure of the material is significantly altered as the cooling rate increases.
By heating and cooling a series of samples, the history of the austenite transformation may be recorded. TTT diagram indicates when a specific transformation starts and ends and it also shows what percentage of transformation of austenite at a particular temperature is achieved.
Cooling rates in the order of increasing severity are achieved by quenching from elevated temperatures as follows: furnace cooling, air cooling, oil quenching, liquid salts, water quenching, and brine. If these cooling curves are superimposed on the TTT diagram, the end product structure and the time required to complete the transformation may be found.
In Figure the area on the left of the transformation curve represents the austenite region. Austenite is stable at temperatures above LCT but unstable below LCT. Left curve indicates the start of a transformation and right curve represents the finish of a transformation. The area between the two curves indicates the transformation of austenite to different types of crystal structures. (Austenite to pearlite, austenite to martensite, austenite to bainite transformation)
Transformation of austenite to pearlite is not linear as shown at constant temperature i.e 600°C. Initially the rate of transformation is slow, then it increases rapidly, and finally it slows down towards the end.