Evolution of Surface Topography and Microstructure in Laser Polishing of Cold Work Steel 1.2379 (AISI D2) Using Quadratic, Top-Hat Shaped Intensity Distributions
Within the scope of this study, basic experimental research was carried out on macro-laser polishing of tool steel 1.2379 (D2) using a square intensity distribution and continuous wave laser radiation. The influence of the individual process parameters on surface topography was analyzed by a systematic investigation of a wide range of process parameters for two different, square laser beam diameters. Contrary to a typical laser polishing approach, it was shown that short interaction times (high scanning velocity and small laser beam dimensions) are required to reduce both micro-roughness and meso-roughness. A significant reduction of surface roughness of approx. 46% was achieved from Raini = 0.33 ± 0.026 µm to Ramin = 0.163 ± 0.018 µm using a focused square laser beam with an edge length of dL,E = 100 µm at a scanning velocity of vscan = 200 mm/s, a laser power PL = 60 W and n = 2 passes. However, characteristic surface features occur during laser polishing and are a direct consequence of the laser polishing process. Martensite needles in the micro-roughness region, undercuts in the meso-roughness region, and surface waviness in the macro-roughness region can dominate different regions of the resulting surface roughness spectrum. In terms of mechanical properties, average surface hardness was determined by hundreds of nano-indentation measurements and was approx. 390 ± 21 HV0.1 and particularly homogeneous over the whole laser polished surface.