Microstructure refinement and enhanced mechanical properties of wire arc additively manufactured RAFM steel via post heat treatments
Reduced activation ferritic/martensitic (RAFM) steel with high strength and neutron radiation damage resistance is deemed one of the promising structural materials for fusion blankets. In this study, RAFM steel tube was prepared through wire arc additive manufacturing, and the evolution of phase composition, microstructural features and mechanical properties during the as-built and heat treatment processes were investigated. The results show that the as-built state is predominantly composed of α-Fe, and the microstructure’s morphology from bottom to top consists of alternating columnar grain regions, equiaxed coarse grain regions, and fine grain regions. Normalizing and tempering treatment eliminates the heterogeneous microstructure, resulting in the presence of M23C6 carbides enriched with Cr and W, as well as MX phases enriched with Ta and V. Partitioning heat treatment results in the formation of ultrafine martensitic, quenched martensite and bainitic microstructures. The mechanical properties of wire arc additively manufactured RAFM steel are influenced by variations in microstructure. The coarse-grained region formed in the as-built state represent weak links. Normalizing and tempering treatment reduces the strength while improving ductility. Partitioning heat-treated RAFM steel exhibited a high strength of 1.1 GPa and an elongation of approximately 10.9%. This study provides a method of combining additive manufacturing with heat treatment to enhance the strength and ductility of RAFM steel simultaneously.