Purdue University Graduate School
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posted on 2019-01-17, 13:43 authored by Michael C. WaddellMichael C. Waddell

Aeronautical products additively manufactured by Selective Laser Melting (SLM), are known to have fatigue properties which are negatively impacted by porosity defects, microstructural features and residual stresses. Little research is available studying these phenomena with respect to the short fatigue crack growth (FCG) inconsistency problem, the large focus being on the long FCG. This thesis seeks to add useful knowledge to the understanding of the mechanisms for short crack growth variability in SLM manufactured Ti-6Al-4V, with the two variables for the process conditions and build directions investigated. An in-situ FCG investigation using x-ray synchrotron computed micro-tomography (μXSCT) was used to visually observe and quantify the short crack path evolution. Crack growth, deflections and porosity interactions were noted and discussed in relation to microstructure, build layer thickness and build layer orientation. A novel use of in-situ energy dispersive x-ray diffraction (EDD) was able to show the lattice strains evolving as a propagating crack moved through a small region of interest. The results presented show the ability to reliably obtain all six elastic strain tensor components, and interpret useful knowledge from a small region of interest.

There are conflicting views in literature with respect to the damage tolerance behavior of as built SLM manufactured Ti-6Al-4V. In the 2018 review by Agius et al., the more prominent studies were considered with Leuders et al. showing the highest long FCG rates for cracks parallel to the build layer and Cain et al. showing cracks propagating through successive build layers as highest [1]–[3]. Cain et al. and Vilaro et al. report significant anisotropy in long FCG for different build orientations whereas Edwards and Ramulu present similar FCG behavior for three different build directions [2]–[5]. Kruth et al. concluded that for optimized build parameters without any (detectable) pores, the building direction does not play a significant role in the fracture toughness results [6]. All of the mentioned literature reported martensitic microstructures and the presence of prior grain structures for as built SLM Ti-6Al-4V.

No studies to the authors knowledge have considered the short FCG of SLM manufactured Ti‑6Al‑4V and its implications to the conflicting damage tolerance behaviors reported in literature [1]. In this work small cross-sectional area (1.5 x 1.5 ) samples in two different build conditions of as built SLM Ti-6Al‑4V are studied. The short FCG rate of three different build directions was considered with cracks parallel to the build layers shown to be the most damaging. The microstructure and build layer are shown to be the likely dominant factors in the short FCG rate of as built Ti-6Al-4V. In terms of porosity, little impact to the propagating short crack was seen although there is local elastoplastic behavior around these defects which could cause toughening in the non-optimized build parameter samples tested. The fracture surfaces were examined using a Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) with the results showing significant differences in the behavior of the two build conditions. From the microindentation hardness testing undertaken, the smooth fracture surface of the optimized sample correlated with a higher Vickers Hardness (VH) result and therefore higher strength. The non-optimized samples had a ‘rough’ fracture surface, a lower VH result and therefore strength. Furthering the knowledge of short FCG in SLM manufactured Ti-6Al-4V will have positive implications to accurately life and therefore certify additive manufactured aeronautical products.


Degree Type

  • Master of Science in Aeronautics and Astronautics


  • Aeronautics and Astronautics

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Michael D. Sangid

Additional Committee Member 2

Weinong W. Chen

Additional Committee Member 3

Tyler N. Tallman