Electron beam melting of Alloy 718 : Influence of process parameters on the microstructure

Abstract: Additive manufacturing (AM) is the name given to the technology of building 3D parts by adding layer-by-layer of materials, including metals, plastics, concrete, etc. Of the different types of AM techniques, electron beam melting (EBM), as a powder bed fusion technology, has been used in this study. EBM is used to build parts by melting metallic powders by using a highly intense electron beam as the energy source. Compared to a conventional process, EBM offers enhanced efficiency for the production of customized and specific parts in aerospace, space, and medical fields. In addition, the EBM process is used to produce complex parts for which other technologies would be either expensive or difficult to apply. This thesis has been divided into three sections, starting from a wider window and proceeding to a smaller one. The first section reveals how the position-related parameters (distance between samples, height from build plate, and sample location on build plate) can affect the microstructural characteristics. It has been found that the gap between the samples and the height from the build plate can have significant effects on the defect content and niobium-rich phase fraction. In the second section, through a deeper investigation, the behavior of Alloy 718 during the EBM process as a function of different geometry-related parameters is examined by building single tracks adjacent to each other (track-by-track) andsingle-wall samples (single tracks on top of each other). In this section, the main focus is to understand the effect of successive thermal cycling on microstructural evolution. In the final section, the correlations between the main machine-related parameters (scanning speed, beam current, and focus offset) and the geometrical (melt pool width, track height, re-melted depth, and contact angle) and microstructural (grain structure, niobium-rich phase fraction, and primary dendrite arm spacing) characteristics of a single track of Alloy 718 have been investigated. It has been found that the most influential machine-related parameters are scanning speed and beam current, which have significant effects on the geometry and the microstructure of the single-melted tracks.