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Influence of solidification structure on austenite to martensite transformation in additively manufactured hot-work tool steels



Chia-Ying Chou, Niklas H. Pettersson, Durga A, Fan Zhang, Christos Oikonomou, Annika Borgenstam, Joakim Odqvist, Greta Lindwall


The microstructure of a hot-work tool steel additively manufactured using laser powder-bed fusion (L-PBF), and its response to post heat treatment, is studied in detail by microstructure characterization and computational thermodynamics and kinetics. The high solidification and cooling rates during the L-PBF process lead to suppression of δ-ferrite and instead solidification of an austenite phase directly containing a cellular substructure where the alloying elements have segregated to the inter-cellular regions and where solidification carbides have formed in the cell junctions. The austenite is then partly decomposed into martensite at lower temperatures. The micro-segregation can be predicted by reducing the complex solidification behavior to a diffusion problem in one dimension enabling detailed comparisons with the measured segregation profiles quantified at a nanometer scale. Martensite start temperature (Ms) calculations along the spatial varying composition show that the Ms temperature decreases in the inter-cellular regions where austenite is observed. The network of austenite in the as-built microstructure can be understood from the combined influence of the composition dependence of the Ms temperature in relation to the build plate temperature and the mechanical stabilization of the small-sized austenite regions. This work demonstrates the power of computational tools based on computational thermodynamics and kinetics for designing tool steels for additive manufacturing (AM) by predictions of the steel's response to the L-PBF process and post heat treatments.
Acta Materialia


additive manufacturing, steel, solidification, microstructure, calphad


Chou, C. , Pettersson, N. , A, D. , Zhang, F. , Oikonomou, C. , Borgenstam, A. , Odqvist, J. and Lindwall, G. (2021), Influence of solidification structure on austenite to martensite transformation in additively manufactured hot-work tool steels, Acta Materialia, [online],, (Accessed May 19, 2024)


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Created August 15, 2021, Updated October 14, 2021