Post-treatment of Alloy 718 produced by electron beam melting
Abstract: Electron beam melting (EBM), a metal additive manufacturing (AM) process, has received considerable industrial attention for near net shape manufacture of complex geometries with traditionally difficult-to-machine materials. This has fuelled considerable academic interest in investigating EBM of Alloy 718, a nickel ironbased superalloy possessing an exciting combination of good mechanical behaviour and cost effectiveness. EBM production of Alloy 718 is particularly promising for aerospace and other sectors which value rapid production of components with large scope for design flexibility. The EBM builds are characterized by presence of inevitable defects and, anisotropy within a build is also a concern. Consequently, as-built Alloy 718 has to be subjected to post-build thermal-treatments (post-treatments) to ensure that the parts eventually meet the critical service requirements. Not withstanding the above, limited knowledge is available about optimal post-treatments for EBM-built Alloy 718. Therefore, the main focus of the work presented in this thesis was to systematically investigate the response of EBM-built material to post-treatments, which include hotisostatic pressing (HIPing), solution treatment (ST), and aging.HIPing of EBM-built Alloy 718 led to more than an order of magnitude reduction in defect content, which was reduced from as high as 17% to < 0.2% in samples built with intentionally introduced porosity to investigate limits of defect closure achievable through HIPing. In addition, HIPing also caused complete dissolution of δ and γ" phases present in the as-built condition, with the latter causing dropin hardness of the material. HIPing had no effect on the carbides and inclusions such as TiN, Al2O3 present in the built material. The evolution of microstructure during ST and aging was systematically investigated. Growth of potentially beneficial grain boundary δ phase precipitates was found to cease after a certain duration of ST, with samples subjected to prior-HIPing exhibiting lesser precipitation of the δ phase during ST. While the specimen hardness increased onaging, it was observed to plateau after a duration significantly shorted than the specified ASTM 'standard' aging cycle. Therefore, prima facie there are promising prospects for shortening the overall heat treatment duration. A combination of HIPing, ST, and aging treatments in a single uninterrupted cycle was also explored. Future work involving incorporation of a shortened heat treatment schedule in a combined cycle can have significant industrial implications.
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