Issue 35

R. Konečná et alii, Frattura ed Integrità Strutturale, 35 (2016) 31-40; DOI: 10.3221/IGF-ESIS.36.04 32 I NTRODUCTION dditive layer manufacturing (ALM) has recently gained a lot of interest due to the feasibility of producing metallic components directly from a computer-aided design file of the part. The technology has strong impact on variety of industries, e.g. automotive, shipping, and aerospace [1]. Selective laser melting (SLM), one of the main ALM technologies, is currently capable of producing nearly ready-to-use parts made of many metallic materials, including Ni- based superalloys [2]. Conventionally manufactured Inconel 718 is frequently used for high temperature applications (up to 700 °C) as jet engine and high-speed airframe parts, gas turbines, exhaust manifolds, turbochargers, etc. The microstructure of the alloy consists of a nickel-rich γ matrix, which has a face-centered cubic (fcc) lattice structure with many different precipitates. The fine grain size is sought because leads to an increase in yield and ultimate tensile strength as well as better fatigue stress rupture properties at elevated temperatures. The static strength of Inconel 718 is induced by particle strengthening effect of secondary precipitates and solid solution hardening. The major part of the strengthening at elevated temperatures is caused by the secondary precipitates γ′ and γ″ [3-7]. SLM is a very complex process with a number of non-equilibrium phenomena depending on the process details. The final product fabricated by localized melting and solidification of gas atomized Inconel 718 powder is strongly influenced by process parameters like the laser power and the beam diameter, scanning parameters and, indeed, the starting material powder. Moreover, the thermal conductivity, temperature and the environmental conditions in the process chamber play an important role. The static performance of many SLM materials is found to be reasonably comparable in terms of the ultimate strength, yield strength and elongation to conventionally manufactured materials. By reason of the advantages of the SLM technology there is a strong tendency to apply it even where not only the static but also fatigue properties are decisive for reliable and long term operation. Due to the complex interaction of SLM process parameters, resulting microstructure and material properties, the generation of the needed fatigue design data is quite complicated because the fatigue behavior appears highly susceptible to of SLM process issues, such as porosity, build orientation, residual stress and surface condition [8-10]. Because the SLM fabrication route is increasingly applied to Inconel 718, its fatigue behavior and the fatigue crack propagation data are desirable for a more widespread use. This study is aimed at the microstructural characterization of Inconel 718 manufactured by SLM and at the determination of long fatigue crack growth data. The crack growth behavior and the mechanism of crack tip interaction with the specific SLM microstructure during crack propagation are discussed. E XPERIMENTAL ACTIVITY Experimental methods he base material for SLM process was in the form of atomized Inconel 718 powder with a granulometry in the range from 20 to 50 µm (Fig. 1). The Nickel-based superalloy Inconel 718 powder has the nominal chemical composition given in tab. 1 (corresponds to the Standard DIN NiCr19Fe19NbMo3). Ni Fe Cr Nb Mo Ti Al 52.5 18.4 19.9 5.1 3.22 0.92 0.71 Table 1 : Chemical composition in wt. %. The specimens for fatigue crack growth testing were produced by SLM on a RENISHAW A250 machine schematically depicted in Fig. 2 [11]. This system features a vacuum chamber, which after low-pressure atmospheric evacuation allows the refill of the chamber with high purity argon gas. A soft blade evens out each fresh layer of powder material across the surface of the bed before consolidation by the laser. The machine is equipped with a fiber laser (wavelength  = 1070 nm) with a maximum power of 200 W. All specimens were made at the full laser power. The modulated pulsed-laser moves in a raster fashion 50 μm point-to-point and with a point exposure time of 251 μs. The scanning speed was approximately 200 mm/s. The lateral separation between consecutive scan lines was set at 180 μm whereas the layer thickness was fixed at 50 μm. The selective layer-by-layer melting of the powder by the laser beam induces an inherent texture in the SLM material. Consequently, the parts have some degree of anisotropy. A T