A process combining swaging, static recrystallization, and heat treatment at 873 K (low-temperature heat-treatment, LTHT) was developed for achieving both high ultimate strength and high ductility in Co-20Cr-15W-10Ni (mass%, CCWN) alloy for stent application. The alloys swaged to a sectional area reduction rate of 58.3% were annealed at 1373–1473 K for 30–300 s. Under annealing at 1373 K for 300 s, a fine grain structure with an average grain size of ~6 μm formed, while under annealing at 1473 K, a structure with an average grain size of 12 μm formed after 120 s. In the alloys annealed at 1373–1448 K, the formation of η-phase precipitates (M6X-M12X type, M: metallic elements, X: C and/or N) was observed, while no precipitates were observed in the alloys annealed at 1473 K. The improvement in ultimate strength by grain refinement was confirmed. Alloys annealed at 1473 K showed higher ductility compared to those annealed at 1373–1448 K even if the grain size was similar. It is considered that the η-phase precipitates deteriorated the ductility of the annealed alloys. LTHT suppressed the strain-induced martensitic γ-to-ε transformation to improve the ductility of the fine-grained as well as coarse-grained alloys. Thus, regardless of the grain size, it is newly evidenced that LTHT effectively improves ductility in CCWN alloy. By combining high-temperature short-time annealing and LTHT, both the ultimate strength and ductility of Co-20Cr-15W-10Ni (mass%) alloy improved, and it was possible to provide properties suitable for next-generation balloon-expandable stents with Co-20Cr-15W-10Ni (mass%) alloy.
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