Quantification of extremely small-structured ferritic-austenitic phase fractions in stainless steels manufactured by laser powder bed fusion

Becker, L. and Boes, J. and Lentz, J. and Cui, C. and Uhlenwinkel, V. and Steinbacher, M. and Fechte-Heinen, R. and Theisen, W. and Weber, S.

Volume: 22 Pages:
DOI: 10.1016/j.mtla.2022.101393
Published: 2022

This work investigated processing of stainless steel powders and powder mixtures using powder bed fusion - laser beam/metal (PBF-LB/M), which produced different ferritic and austenitic phase fractions in the as-built state. The rapid cooling and solidification rates in the PBF-LB/M process led to the formation of an extremely small-structured microstructure in which the austenitic phase was found on the grain boundaries and as acicular Widmanstätten austenite (width < 1 µm) within the primary δ-ferritic solidified matrix. This work shows that the time-saving quantification of the ferritic and austenitic phase fractions of these particular microstructures is nontrivial. Common time-efficient phase quantification methods such as image analysis of etched cross-sections or magneto-inductive methods (Feritscope®) have proven to be inaccurate. On the other hand, electron backscattered diffraction (EBSD) investigations proved to be extremely time-consuming in order to resolve the small microstructural constituents sufficiently well and to obtain a reliably large sample section. The highest accuracy was achieved with X-ray diffraction. Two different methods were considered: the Debye-Scherrer method, which was characterized by short measuring times, and the Bragg-Brentano method (quantification using Rietveld refinement), which showed the highest accuracy for the entire range of ferritic-austenitic phase fractions. © 2022 Acta Materialia Inc.

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