Purdue University Graduate School

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Microstructure Evolution and Strengthening Effects of Carbide Phases in Mar-M 509 Cobalt Alloy Fabricated by Laser Powder Bed Fusion

posted on 2023-04-21, 15:45 authored by Jack Michael LopezJack Michael Lopez

 Laser powder bed fusion (LPBF) is a rapidly emerging manufacturing technology capable of producing complex part geometries through the repeated, precise laser melting of metallic powder layers. At present, the process is primarily employed in high-value-added applications which exist in the aerospace, biomedical, and dental industries. As industrial implementation of LPBF has matured, research has focused on established materials for which there are already large bodies of literature and regulatory approval, such as Inconel 718, Inconel 625, Ti-6Al-4V, and 316 stainless steel. However, the rapid solidification process inherent to LPBF leads to vastly different microstructures with improved strength compared to these traditional materials in cast or wrought forms. In general, the high solidification velocity and thermal gradients result in cellular and dendritic solidification structures with finer grain and precipitate sizes than conventionally processed alloys. These microstructure changes warrant the exploration of new alloy systems and reevaluation of historically cast compositions with optimized microstructures, especially considering the tunability of a digitally controlled fabrication process. This work examines laser powder bed fusion of Mar-M 509, a carbide-strengthened cobalt alloy that is typically investment cast directly into complex-shaped components such as nozzle guide vanes (NGVs). NGVs are stationary components in gas turbine engines for propulsion and energy production which require strength under moderate mechanical loading at high temperatures. Investment cast microstructures have porosity defects in slower-cooled regions due to lack of liquid feed to interdendritic regions. As-printed, the cellular and dendritic Mar-M 509 LPBF microstructures lead to the formation of continuous, fiber-like, eutectic carbide structures in the intercellular and interdendritic regions, which limit macroscopic ductility. Thermo-Calc is used for calculation of phase diagrams (CALPHAD) to estimate the equilibrium transformation temperatures of MC, M23C6, and M7C3-type carbides, which informs design of isothermal heat treatments to engineer microstructures with enhanced ductility over the as-printed or cast versions of Mar-M 509 while maintaining tensile strength. Scanning and transmission electron microscopy reveals the composition and distribution of carbide phases as a function of heat treatment temperature. Lastly, heat treatment recommendations for nozzle guide vanes are made.  


I acknowledge the financial support of this work by the Alliances for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP) from NSF project DMR-2016453, and the U.S. Office of Naval Research under projects N00014-17-1-2087 and N00014-22-1-2160.


Degree Type

  • Master of Science


  • Materials Engineering

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Xinghang Zhang

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee co-chair

Haiyan Wang

Additional Committee Member 2

Nikhilesh Chawla