Influence of Minor Alloying Element Additions on the Crack Susceptibility of a Nickel Based Superalloy Manufactured by LPBF

Materials (Basel). 2021 Sep 30;14(19):5702. doi: 10.3390/ma14195702.


Inconel 738LC (IN738LC) is a nickel-based superalloy specially used in the hot section components of turbine engines. One of its main drawbacks relies on the cracking susceptibility when it is manufactured by laser powder bed fusion (LPBF). This paper analyzes the influence of minor alloying element concentration on cracking tendency of IN738LC superalloy manufactured by LPBF. For that objective, samples were manufactured using two powders, which presented different minor alloying elements concentration (Si, Zr and B). It was shown that the samples crack tendency was very different depending on the powder used for their manufacturing. In fact, the measured crack density value was 2.73 mm/mm2 for the samples manufactured with the powder with higher minor alloying elements concentration, while 0.25 mm/mm2 for the others. Additionally, a special emphasis has been put on elemental composition characterization in cracked grain boundaries in order to quantify possible Si or Zr enrichment. It has been also studied the differences of solidification ranges and grain structures between both samples as a consequence of different minor alloying elements concentration in order to analyze their effect on crack susceptibility. In this sense, Scheil-Gulliver simulation results have shown that samples with higher Si and Zr contents presented higher solidification range temperature. This fact, as well as an increase of the presence of high angle grain boundaries (HAGB), leaded to an increment in the crack formation during solidification. Therefore, in this research work, an understanding of the factors affecting crack phenomenon in the LPBF manufactured IN738LC was accomplished.

Keywords: laser powder bed fusion (LPBF); minor alloying elements influence; nickel superalloy; solidification cracking.