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Additive manufacturing of 316L stainless steel by electron beam melting for nuclear fusion applications

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Author list: Koptyug, Andrey;Rännar, Lars-Erik

Publication year: 2017

Start page: 234

End page: 245

Number of pages: 12

ISSN: 0022-3115

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jnucmat.2016.12.042

View additional information: View in Web of Science


Abstract

A feasibility study was performed to fabricate ITER In-Vessel components by one of the metal additive manufacturing methods, Electron Beam Melting® (EBM®). Solid specimens of SS316L with 99.8% relative density were prepared from gas atomized precursor powder granules. After the EBM® process the phase remains as austenite and the composition has practically not been changed. The RCC-MR code used for nuclear pressure vessels provides guidelines for this study and tensile tests and Charpy-V tests were carried out at 22 °C (RT) and 250 °C (ET). This work provides the first set of mechanical and microstructure data of EBM® SS316L for nuclear fusion applications. The mechanical testing shows that the yield strength, ductility and toughness are well above the acceptance criteria and only the ultimate tensile strength of EBM® SS316L is below the RCC-MR code. Microstructure characterizations reveal the presence of hierarchical structures consisting of solidified melt pools, columnar grains and irregular shaped sub-grains. Lots of precipitates enriched in Cr and Mo are observed at columnar grain boundaries while no sign of element segregation is shown at the sub-grain boundaries. Such a unique microstructure forms during a non-equilibrium process, comprising rapid solidification and a gradient ‘annealing’ process due to anisotropic thermal flow of accumulated heat inside the powder granule matrix. Relations between process parameters, specimen geometry (total building time) and sub-grain structure are discussed. Defects are formed mainly due to the large layer thickness (100 µm) which generates insufficient bonding between a few of the adjacently formed melt pools during the process. Further studies should focus on adjusting layer thickness to improve the strength of EBM® SS316L and optimizing total building time.


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