Impact of the allowed compositional range of additively manufactured 316l stainless steel on processability and material properties

Großwendt, F. and Becker, L. and Röttger, A. and Chehreh, A.B. and Strauch, A.L. and Uhlenwinkel, V. and Lentz, J. and Walther, F. and Fechte-Heinen, R. and Weber, S. and Theisen, W.

Volume: 14 Pages:
DOI: 10.3390/ma14154074
Published: 2021

This work aims to show the impact of the allowed chemical composition range of AISI 316L stainless steel on its processability in additive manufacturing and on the resulting part properties. ASTM A276 allows the chromium and nickel contents in 316L stainless steel to be set between 16 and 18 mass%, respectively, 10 and 14 mass%. Nevertheless, the allowed compositional range impacts the microstructure formation in additive manufacturing and thus the properties of the manufactured components. Therefore, this influence is analyzed using three different starting powders. Two starting powders are laboratory alloys, one containing the maximum allowed chromium content and the other one containing the maximum nickel content. The third material is a commercial powder with the chemical composition set in the middle ground of the allowed compositional range. The materials were processed by laser-based powder bed fusion (PBF-LB/M). The powder characteristics, the microstructure and defect formation, the corrosion resistance, and the mechanical properties were investigated as a function of the chemical composition of the powders used. As a main result, solid-state cracking could be observed in samples additively manufactured from the starting powder containing the maximum nickel content. This is related to a fully austenitic solidification, which occurs because of the low chromium to nickel equivalent ratio. These cracks reduce the corrosion resistance as well as the elongation at fracture of the additively manufactured material that possesses a low chromium to nickel equivalent ratio of 1.0. A limitation of the nickel equivalent of the 316L type steel is suggested for PBF-LB/M production. Based on the knowledge obtained, a more detailed specification of the chemical composition of the type 316L stainless steel is recommended so that this steel can be PBF-LB/M processed to defect-free components with the desired mechanical and chemical properties. © 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

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