Invar 36 samples have been fabricated by selective laser melting at a constant laser power but with varied laser scanning speeds. Some samples were further heat treated or hot isostatically pressed (HIPed). The obtained microstructures were studied using optical and electron microscopes, X-ray diffraction and electron backscattered diffraction techniques and the properties evaluated through both tensile testing and thermal expansion measurement. It was found that the as-fabricated samples show very low porosity (<0.5%) when the laser scanning speeds are below 3200mm/s but show remarkably increased porosity above 3200mm/s (at 400W). Increased scanning speed also led to increasingly irregular-shaped laser scanned tracks together with an increased number of pores on sample surfaces and keyhole features within the samples, all indicative of increasingly unstable melt flow behaviour. The as-fabricated microstructure was dominated by columnar γ grains decorated by nanosized α precipitates, resulting in development of texture. Heat treatment did not change microstructure significantly while HIPing closed the majority of pores but also caused pronounced coarsening of α precipitates especially those located at grain boundaries during subsequent slow cooling. With the presence of elongated pores, the vertically built samples were found to show much lower elongation than horizontally built samples while in the absence of pores their ductility has been significantly improved but their tensile strengths are still lower than the latter. The vertically built samples generally failed in a transgranular mode while the horizontally built samples failed in an intergranular mode. HIPing greatly degraded tensile properties due to the presence of coarse grain boundary α precipitates weakening the bonding between grains. Irrespective of building orientations, the as-fabricated samples show low coefficients of thermal expansion below 300°C comparable to conventionally manufactured Invar 36.
- Selective laser melting; Invar 36; microstructure; tensile behaviour; thermal expansion