Influence of laser polishing on surface roughness and microstructural properties of the remelted surface boundary layer of tool steel H11
This work investigates the influence of multi-step laser polishing on microstructural properties of the remelted surface layer of tool steel H11. Four different laser polishing process parameter sets were selected that lead to a significant reduction in roughness. In a sequential process using continuous and pulsed laser radiation (Nd:YAG) a significant reduction of surface roughness was achieved on an initially annealed H11 sample. The remelted layers were analyzed using roughness measurements, white light interferometry, X-ray diffractometry, electron backscatter diffraction, glow discharge emission spectroscopy, and nanoindentation hardness measurements. Laser polishing leads to a grain refinement and a significant increase in hardness. A surface roughness of Ra 50 nm was achieved in an Argon process atmosphere with an additional 6 vol% CO2. In particular the carbon concentration was more than halved within the remelted layer. The lower carbon concentration is correlated with a decreased maximal surface hardness down to 366 HV. High residual tensile stresses of up to 926 MPa can be introduced by laser polishing. Overall, high temperature gradients and, in particular, decarburization due to carbon diffusion processes were identified to be the major driving force for significant changes in surface micro-roughness and microstructural properties.
State Key Laboratory of Tribology, Tsinghua University, Beijing, PR China; RWTH Aachen University