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Vol. 6 (2019)

Microstructures and Metallographic Characterization of Superalloys

October 31, 2019


Superalloys are metallic alloys with specific microstructures and atoms in solid solution allowing good mechanical and chemical properties at high temperature, typically higher than 1000°C. They present many different types of {matrix – precipitates} combinations which can be characterized at each step of their elaboration, by specifying the chemical compositions and the crystalline network of the phases present. After test on a sample (laboratory scale), or after the deterioration in service of a component leading to its replacement by a new one (industrial scale), the superalloys constituting these pieces are often usefully examined. This aims to specify the changes occurred in their microstructures as well as in their surface or sub-surface, due to the endured thermal, mechanical and chemical solicitations. These characterizations can be simply done using basic low-magnification optical microscopic examinations. Other means such as electronic microscopy and other advanced apparatus may be usefully involved for further investigations. After a brief history about superalloys, an overview of the phenomenological aspects of their mechanical and chemical solicitations during their use at high temperature, the metallographic techniques which are usually employed to characterize them are presented and illustrated in the case of a chosen family of superalloys.


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