Sustainable manufacturing for assembly of turbines used in hydro power generation systems is driving the development of advanced technologies targeted to reduce life-cycle costs whilst assuring high performance over the prolonged product life-span. The turbine runner, a critical component in hydro power generation systems, requires weld assembly between the crown, band and blade sub-components. With due consideration of the thick-gauge sections involved, design and fabrication of a turbine runner that would integrate a high energy density technology for assembly, such as vacuum electron beam welding (EBW), has marked potential to achieve deep penetration with a low heat input, thereby rendering a weldment with narrow heat-affected zones (HAZ) and low distortion. In this study, the weldability of thick-gauge section AISI 415 martensitic stainless steels that are widely utilized in hydro turbine manufacturing was investigated by EBW. Particularly, bead-on-plate (BOP) welding of 88 mm-thick AISI 415 plate was carried out using a 42 kW high vacuum EBW system. The characteristics of the weldments, such as fusion zone (FZ) and HAZ microstructures and hardness were evaluated. The microstructural constituents across the weldment for process conditions that rendered near-complete penetration were studied and related to the microhardness evolution.

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