A novel γ′ strengthened nickel-based superalloy for laser powder bed fusion

Jinghao Xu1, Hans Gruber2, Ru Lin Peng1, Johan Moverare1

1Linköping university, 2Chalmers University of Technology


Through the development and improvement of nickel-based superalloys in the past century, they are well proved to show excellent performance at the elevated service temperature. The success of nickel-based superalloy systems attributes to both the well-tailored microstructures with the assistance of carefully doped alloying elements, and the intently developed manufacturing processes. The recently developed additive manufacturing (AM) techniques, acting as the disruptive manufacturing process, offers a new avenue for producing the nickel-based superalloy components with complicated geometries. However, γ′ strengthened nickel-based superalloys always suffer from the micro-cracking during the AM process, which is barely eliminated by the process optimization. 
On this basis, the new compositions of γ′ strengthened nickel-based superalloy adapted to the AM process are of great interest and significance. This study sought to design novel γ′ strengthened nickel-based superalloys readily for AM process with limited cracking susceptibility, based on the understanding of the cracking mechanisms. A two-parameter model is developed to predict the additive manufacturability for any given composition of a nickel-based superalloy. By plotting the additive manufacturability diagram, the superalloys family can be categorized into the easy-to-weld, fairly-weldable, and non-weldable regime with the good agreement of the existed knowledge. To design a novel superalloy, a Cr-Co-Mo-W-Al-Ti-Ta-Nb-Fe-Ni alloy family is proposed containing 921,600 composition recipes in total. Through the examination of additive manufacturability, undesired phase formation propensity, and the precipitation fraction, one composition of superalloy, MAD542, out of the 921,600 candidates is selected. 
By optimizing the LPBF process parameters, the crack-free MAD542 part is achieved. In addition, the MAD542 superalloy shows great resistance to the post-processing treatment-induced cracking. After ageing treatment, up to 60-65% volume fraction of γ′ precipitates is developed, indicating the huge potential of γ′ formation.