Characterization of nitrogen effects in high energy density weldments of Nitronic 40 stainless steel

by Erik Andrew Pfeif

Institution: Colorado School of Mines
Year: 2015
Keywords: Microtensile Testing; Stainless Steel; Nitronic 40; Laser welding
Posted: 02/05/2017
Record ID: 2105768
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/11124/20127


Variation in the welding environment for laser beam welding and electron beam welding can alter the resulting weld chemical composition, microstructure and therefore the mechanical properties. The room temperature mechanical properties of Nitronic 40 stainless steel weld metal from three different heats containing 0.24, 0.28, and 0.31 wt. pct. nitrogen were evaluated for continuous mode Ytterbium doped Fiber laser welds conducted with argon and nitrogen shielding gases, and for electron beam welds. The bulk nitrogen contents were monitored and the resulting properties were then related to microstructural features measured using Electron BackScatter Diffraction (EBSD). Traditional tensile testing of weld metal is conducted on composite tensile bars consisting of base metal and weld metal often leading to failure in the region adjacent to the weld due to strength mismatch at the weld interface. These tests provide composite strength but do not specifically determine the mechanical properties of the heterogeneous weld metal. In this research, microtensile testing was conducted to characterize the properties of the different regions of the weld. The microtensile testing procedures were developed using two geometries of tensile bars measuring the properties through the thickness of 3 mm full penetration welds. In all cases an increase in the strength of the weld metal was found to occur, though the electron beam welds exhibited a higher strength than the laser welds. Standard predictive equations were found to under-predict the strength of the laser welds, even when average grain size or intercept distances were measured. The contribution of nitrogen solid solution strengthening was consistent at approximately 513 MPa per wt. pct. nitrogen. Similar cooling rates and heat inputs allow for a comparison across high energy density welding techniques. Though microstructural differences through the depth of the weld metal were observed as nitrogen vaporization decreased and cooling rates increased. Vermicular ferrite, lacy ferrite and intercellular ferrite were identified as predicted in prior research done on high nitrogen austenitic stainless steels. The resulting laser weld metal microstructures were analyzed with EBSD for grain size and ferrite content measurements, while grain boundary character was determined for a Hansen model used for multi-scale mechanical property measurements. It was found that the low angle grain boundaries were the predominant microstructural feature responsible for strengthening within the weld metal and that this contribution must be accounted for when predicting yield strength of the weld metal. Advisors/Committee Members: Liu, Stephen (advisor), Steele, John P. H. (committee member), Olson, D. L. (David LeRoy) (committee member), Mataya, Martin (committee member), Javernick, Daniel A. (committee member).