Hastelloy X (HX) is a Ni-based superalloy which suffers from high crack susceptibility during the laser powder bed fusion (LPBF) process. In this work, the microstructure of as-built HX samples was rigorously investigated to understand the main mechanisms leading to crack formation. The microstructural features of as-built HX samples consisted of very fine dendrite architectures with dimensions typically less than 1 µm, coupled with the formation of sub-micrometric carbides, the largest ones were mainly distributed along the interdendritic regions and grain boundaries. From the microstructural analyses, it appeared that the formation of intergranular carbides provided weaker zones, which combined with high thermal residual stresses resulted in hot cracks formation along the grain boundaries. The carbides were extracted from the austenitic matrix and characterized by combining different techniques, showing the formation of various types of Mo-rich carbides, classified as M₆C, M12C and MnCm type. The first two types of carbides are typically found in HX alloy, whereas the last one is a metastable carbide probably generated by the very high cooling rates of the process.
Keywords: Hastelloy X alloy; Ni-based superalloys; XRD analysis; carbides; electron microscopy; laser powder bed fusion; microstructure.