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Additive Manufacturing of Single-Crystal Superalloy CMSX-4 Through Scanning Laser Epitaxy: Computational Modeling, Experimental Process Development, and Process Parameter Optimization

  • Symposium: Additive Manufacturing: Building the Pathway to Process and Material Qualification
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This paper focuses on additive manufacturing (AM) of single-crystal (SX) nickel-based superalloy CMSX-4 through scanning laser epitaxy (SLE). SLE, a powder bed fusion-based AM process was explored for the purpose of producing crack-free, dense deposits of CMSX-4 on top of similar chemistry investment-cast substrates. Optical microscopy and scanning electron microscopy (SEM) investigations revealed the presence of dendritic microstructures that consisted of fine γ′ precipitates within the γ matrix in the deposit region. Computational fluid dynamics (CFD)-based process modeling, statistical design of experiments (DoE), and microstructural characterization techniques were combined to produce metallurgically bonded single-crystal deposits of more than 500 μm height in a single pass along the entire length of the substrate. A customized quantitative metallography based image analysis technique was employed for automatic extraction of various deposit quality metrics from the digital cross-sectional micrographs. The processing parameters were varied, and optimal processing windows were identified to obtain good quality deposits. The results reported here represent one of the few successes obtained in producing single-crystal epitaxial deposits through a powder bed fusion-based metal AM process and thus demonstrate the potential of SLE to repair and manufacture single-crystal hot section components of gas turbine systems from nickel-based superalloy powders.

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This work was sponsored by the Office of Naval Research through grants N00014-11-1-0670 and N00014-14-1-0658. The authors would like to thank Mr. Parthasarathi Chakraborti, Packaging Research Center, Georgia Institute of Technology for his assistance with SEM.


Dr. Suman Das is a co-founder of DDM Systems, a start-up company commercializing SLE technology. Dr. Das and Georgia Tech are entitled to royalties derived from DDM Systems’ sale of products related to the research described in this paper. This study could affect their personal financial status. The terms of this arrangement have been reviewed and approved by Georgia Tech in accordance with its conflict of interest policies.

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Correspondence to Suman Das.

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Manuscript submitted January 13, 2016.

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Basak, A., Acharya, R. & Das, S. Additive Manufacturing of Single-Crystal Superalloy CMSX-4 Through Scanning Laser Epitaxy: Computational Modeling, Experimental Process Development, and Process Parameter Optimization. Metall Mater Trans A 47, 3845–3859 (2016).

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