Microstructure and properties of high-strength C + N austenitic stainless steel processed by laser powder bed fusion

Boes, J. and Röttger, A. and Theisen, W.

Volume: 32 Pages:
DOI: 10.1016/j.addma.2020.101081
Published: 2020

In the developing field of laser powder bed fusion (L-PBF), austenitic stainless steels, such as AISI 316L, have gained great importance owing to their excellent processability. However, the moderate strength of these steels limits their applicability. This can be counteracted by the use of nitrogen as an alloying element to improve both strength and corrosion resistance. In this work, nitrogen-alloyed high-strength austenitic stainless steel X40MnCrMoN19-18-1 was processed by L-PBF, and the resulting microstructural and mechanical properties were investigated. The same material was also processed by hot isostatic pressing (HIP), which was used as a reference state. In the L-PBF process, argon and nitrogen were used as process gases to investigate the influence of process atmosphere on the microstructure and on changes in the chemical composition during processing. The results show a minor decrease in the nitrogen content of the steel after L-PBF, independently of the process gas, whereby argon resulted in a slightly higher specimen density. The microstructure after L-PBF processing contained small precipitates that could be removed by a short solution-annealing treatment. The tensile properties of the L-PBF-built steel are comparable to those of the steel produced by hot isostatic pressing in terms of ultimate tensile strength, but had lower elongation to fracture values. The ductility of the material was enhanced by solution annealing without significant impairment of the ultimate tensile strength. This work demonstrates that nitrogen-alloyed stainless steels can be processed by means of L-PBF and can extend the variety of appropriate steels towards applications with high requirements for the material strength and chemical resistance. © 2020 Elsevier B.V.

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