Accurate evaluation of residual stresses in structures is very important because they play a crucial role in the mechanical performance of the components. As residual stresses can be introduced into mechanical components during various thermal or mechanical processes such as heat treatment, forming, welding and additive manufacturing. As an additive manufacturing method, selective laser melting (SLM) has become a powerful tool for the direct manufacturing of three dimensional nano-composite components with complex configurations directly from powders using 3D CAD data as a digital information source and energy in the form of a high-power laser beam. Therefore, the application of the SLM technology is necessary to manufacture Inconel 718 superalloy, which has been widely employed in industrial applications due to its remarkable properties. Hence, it is critical to measure and reduce the residual stress in the Inconel 718 parts formed by SLM due to rapid cooling and reheating. In this study, the process-induced residual stress in Inconel 718 parts produced by selective laser melting (SLM) has been investigated using the model established by Carlsson et al., which is an instrumented indentation technique based on the experimental correlation between the indentation characteristic and the residual stress. The samples were sectioned from an Inconel 718 block along its build direction, and subsequently prepared with general metallographic methods for Vickers indentation and measurements by optical microscopy. The residual stress on the scanning surface (Z-plane) and side surface (X-plane) at different build heights have been evaluated in micro-scale with the contact area, indentation hardness and the equai-biaxial residual stress and strain fields. The results show that the residual stress is unevenly distributed in the SLMed parts with some areas have an maximum absolute value around 350 MPa, about 30 percent of the yield strength of Inconel 718. The average residual stresses in the Z-plane and X-plane samples are tensile and compressive, respectively. Besides, the residual stress does not change significantly along the building direction of the part. Moreover, the Vickers hardness of the parts built with the SLM process is comparable to the literature, and the X-plane surface has a higher hardness than the Z-plane surface. The microstructures and texture evolution of the SLM processed Inconel 718 alloy are also investigated. The X-plane shows the columnar structure due to the large temperature gradient while the Z-plane presents the equiaxed structures. The random texture is shown in the SLM processed specimens.

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