Towards creep property improvement of selective laser melted Ni-based superalloy IN738LC

H. Y. Song, M. C. Lam, Y. Chen, S. Wu, P. D. Hodgson, X. H. Wu, Y. M. Zhu, A. J. Huang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Nickel-based superalloy IN738LC produced by selective laser melting (SLM) exhibits inferior high-temperature creep properties than its cast counterparts due to relatively smaller grain size, particularly for the plane normal to the building direction. This work studied effects of post heating strategy on the microstructure and especially the grain size to improve the high temperature creep resistance. The as-built microstructure exhibited a fine grain size and large quantities of MC carbides that could effectively hinder grain growth. It was found that unconventional two-step heat treatments could lead to substantial grain growth, and the effect is particularly prominent at a specific temperature. The ease of grain growth was explained after classifying the microstructural evolution (boundary carbide transformation) during each heating step and related to the reduced grain boundary pinning force from MC carbides. Creep tests validated the effect of the new heat treatment scheme on the SLM-processed IN738LC at 850 °C. An extended creep fracture life (1.5 to 4 times improvement) and lower secondary creep rates were achieved with samples subjected to the newly optimized two-step heat treatment. The complete creep curves are also firstly presented for SLM-IN738LC, confirming the effectiveness of grain growth and highlighting the importance of dedicated heat treatment for SLM superalloys.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)301-314
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Materials Science and Technology
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jun 2022


  • Creep properties
  • Grain structure
  • Heat treatments
  • IN738LC alloy
  • Selective laser melting

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