Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy


Materials Science and Engineering

First Adviser

John N. DuPont


Martensitic precipitation strengthened stainless steels 17-4 and 13-8+Mo are candidate alloys for high strength military applications. These applications will require joining by fusion welding processes thus, it is necessary to develop an understanding of microstructural and mechanical property changes that occur during welding. Previous investigations on these materials have demonstrated that significant softening occurs in the heat affected zone (HAZ) during welding, due to dissolution of the strengthen precipitates. It was also observed that post weld heat treatments (PWHT’s) were required to restore the properties. However, PWHT’s are expensive and cannot be applied when welding on a large scale or making a repair in the field. Thus, the purpose of the current work is to gain a fundamental understanding of the precipitation kinetics in these systems so that optimized welding procedures can be developed that do not require a PWHT. Multi-pass welding provides an opportunity to restore the strengthening precipitates that dissolve during primary weld passes using the heat from secondary weld passes. Thus, a preliminary investigation was performed to determine whether the times and temperatures associated with welding thermal cycles were sufficient to restore the strength in these systems. A Gleeble thermo-mechanical simulator was used to perform multi-pass welding simulations on samples of each material using a 1000 J/mm and 2000 J/mm heat input. Additionally, base metal and weld metal samples were used as starting conditions to evaluate the difference in precipitation response between each. Hardness measurements were used to estimate the extent of precipitate dissolution and growth. Microstructures were characterized using light optical microscopy (LOM), scanning electron microscopy (SEM), and energy dispersive spectrometry (EDS). It was determined that precipitate dissolution occurred during primary welding thermal cycles and that significant hardening could be achieved using secondary welding thermal cycles for both heat inputs. Additionally, it was observed that the weld metal and base metal had similar precipitation responses. The preliminary multi-pass welding simulations demonstrated that the times and temperatures associated with welding thermal cycles were sufficient to promote precipitation in each system. Furthermore, these findings indicate that controlled weld metal deposition may be a viable method for optimizing welding procedures and eliminating the need for a PWHT. Next, an in-depth Gleeble study was performed to develop a fundamental understanding of the reactions that occur in 17-4 and 13-8+Mo during exposure to times and temperatures representative of multi-pass welding. Samples of each material were subjected to a series of short isothermal holds at high temperatures and hardness measurements were recorded to investigate the dissolution behavior of each alloy. Additional secondary isothermal experiments were performed on samples that had been subjected to a high temperature primary thermal cycle and hardness measurements were recorded. Matrix microstructures were characterized by LOM and reverted austenite measurements were recorded using X-ray diffraction techniques. The hardness data from the secondary heating tests was used in combination with Avrami kinetics equations to develop a relationship between the hardness and fraction transformed of the strengthening precipitates. It was determined that the Avrami relationships provide a useful approximation of the precipitation behavior at times and temperatures representative of welding thermal cycles. Finally, an autogenous gas tungsten arc (GTA) welding study was performed to demonstrate the utility of multi-pass welding for strength restoration in these alloys. Dual-pass welds were made on samples of each material using a range of heat inputs and secondary weld pass overlap percentages. Hardness mapping was then performed to estimate the extent of precipitate growth and dissolution. It was determined that significant softening occurs after primary weld passes and that secondary weld passes, using a high heat input, restored much of the strength. Furthermore, optimal weld overlap percentages were approximated. It was concluded that controlled weld metal deposition can significantly improve the properties of 17-4 and 13-8+Mo and potentially eliminate the need for costly PWHT’s.