In this paper, AM produced test samples of a IN939 derivative nickel-based alloy were tested for tensile, fatigue and creep properties at temperatures up to 871°C and compared to the traditional cast material. Initial results showed improved tensile and fatigue strength, but a reduction in both long-term creep rupture strength and creep ductility in the AM produced material compared to the cast baseline. Microstructural observations in the AM produced material showed a significant difference in the overall metallurgical characteristics beyond grain size compared to the castings. In addition to the laboratory studies and to provide a direct comparison between AM and traditional castings, both AM and cast components were tested in live engine trials exceeding 4,000 hours.
Detailed scanning electron microscopy techniques were used to evaluate the evolution of grain size, gamma-prime, MC carbide and secondary M23C6 carbide size and distribution throughout a 5-step heat treatment process. Post-test evaluations for creep rupture specimens of the AM material showed creep cavitation near grain boundaries. The results from the AM produced material are discussed in comparison to expected properties and characteristics from traditional casting methods. Results have shown that material production and short-term metallurgical properties are sufficient to produce quality high temperature stationary guide vanes, but additional research and development is needed to optimize the AM process to achieve high-temperature creep behavior comparable to castings.