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- Effects of Microstructure Engineering on Laser Powder Bed Fusion Processed Superalloy IN718 through Inoculant Addition
- Ho, I-Ting
Additive manufacturing (AM) techniques can now be utilized as innovative tools that provide unlimited design flexibility for the fabrication...
Show moreAdditive manufacturing (AM) techniques can now be utilized as innovative tools that provide unlimited design flexibility for the fabrication of geometrically complex metallic structures. For production of Ni-base superalloy components used in advanced gas turbine engines, laser powder bed fusion (L-PBF), which is one of the AM techniques, is frequently used as it allows good metallurgical bonding of powder feedstock and simultaneously enables development of ultra-efficient power systems for aerospace propulsion, space exploration and power generation. One of the major challenges associated with additively manufactured Ni-base superalloy components is that the extreme temperature gradients encountered during processing negatively impact the underlying microstructure and mechanical properties of the material. Although the macroscopic shape and chemistry of the additively fabricated part may be identical to the conventionally manufactured part, the resulting properties are usually compromised. In an effort to make Ni-base superalloys more amenable for processing via additive manufacturing, varying levels of benign inoculants that promote may heterogeneously grain nucleation were blended into Inconel 718 (IN718) powder feedstock and used for processing via L-PBF to characterize the microstructural evolution. In the first study, 0.2 wt. % of micron-sized CoAl2O4 flakes was found to effectively change the grain morphology during the L-PBF process leading to significant reduction in crystallographic texture and thus resulting elastic anisotropy. Dispersion of nano-oxides resulting from the reduction of CoAl2O4 particles also contributed to improved tensile strength and steady creep strain rate. It should be noted, however, that, the multiple iterations of remelting as the result of deposition of new layers dissolved the Co-rich particles reduced from CoAl2O4 inoculants. Instead of having nucleation events contributed by elemental Co, the oxide agglomerates as a result of Marangoni convection seemed to be the major contribution to facilitating grain refinement by inhibiting the heat transfer in the surroundings. On the other hand, addition CoAl2O4 particles appeared to generally reduce the melt pool width while increase the melt pool depth by inhibiting the degree of heat transfer and Marangoni flow. The changes in melt pool dimension aided in improving the relative density and surface roughness of the bulk samples by generating better metallurgical bonding to the subsequent layers. As the trade-off, however, the changes in melt pool physics also enhanced the tendency for epitaxial growth and hence retarded the columnar-to-equiaxed transition unless oxide agglomerates are present. In addition to CoAl2O4, candidates including Co, TaCr2, TiB2, and CeO2 particles were also considered to be blended with the powder feedstock of IN718. After the L-PBF process, different degree of microstructural evolution was characterized with the addition of Co, TaCr2, TiB2, or CeO2 particles. It was found that the physical presence of inoculants may change the melt pool geometries that accounted for a comparatively more columnar-grained structure with <101> texture in samples containing Co and TaCr2 particles while a relatively equiaxed-grained structure with <001> texture in samples containing TiB2. The comparison between samples containing TiB2 and CeO2 further indicates that the phase transformation induced agglomeration will also reduce the effectiveness of inoculants due to decreasing nuclei density. Findings from this investigation demonstrate the resulting grain structure upon L-PBF can be profoundly impacted by both chemistry and physical properties of the inoculants. These effects may potentially be harnessed to effectively engineer the microstructure and optimize the properties of L-PBF processed Ni-base superalloys.