Journal of Alloys and Compounds vol:541 pages:177-185
The present work shows that optimization of mechanical properties via heat treatment of parts produced by Selective Laser Melting (SLM) is profoundly different compared to conventionally processed Ti6Al4V. In order to obtain optimal mechanical properties, specific treatments are necessary due to the specific microstructure resulting from the SLM process. SLM is an additive manufacturing technique through which components are built by selectively melting powder layers with a focused laser beam. The process is characterized by short laser-powder interaction times and localized high heat input, which leads to steep thermal gradients, rapid solidification and fast cooling. In this research, the effect of several heat treatments on the microstructure and mechanical properties of Ti6Al4V processed by SLM is studied. A comparison is made with the effect of these treatments on hot forged and subsequently mill annealed Ti6Al4V with an original equiaxed microstructure. For SLM produced parts, the original martensite α' phase is converted to a lamellar mixture of α and β for heat treating temperatures below the β-transus (995°C), but features of the original microstructure are maintained. Treated above the β-transus, extensive grain growth occurs and large β grains are formed which transform to lamellar α+β upon cooling. Post treating at 850°C for two hours, followed by furnace cooling increased the ductility of SLM parts to 12.84 ± 1.36 %, compared to 7.36 ± 1.32 % for as-built parts.