Chinese Journal of Lasers, Volume. 51, Issue 16, 1602301(2024)

Parameters and Microstructure Evolution of TiC/TC4 Composites Formed by Selective Laser Melting

Hongkang Huang1,3, Xia Luo1、*, Yuhong Dai2,3, Xin He1, Yunzhong Liu2、**, Bensheng Huang1, and Zhou Fan1
Author Affiliations
  • 1School of New Energy and Materials, Southwest Petroleum University, Chengdu 610500, Sichuan, China
  • 2National Engineering Research Center of Near-Net-Shape Forming for Metallic Materials, South China University of Technology, Guangzhou 510640, Guangdong, China
  • 3Chengdu Xinshan Aerospace Technology Co., Ltd., Chengdu 610500, Sichuan, China
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    Titanium matrix composites have attracted considerable attention because of their high modulus of elasticity, high specific strength, high wear resistance, and excellent high-temperature durability. Most studies on titanium matrix composites (TMCs) focus primarily on the in-situ formed TiC reinforced composites. However, few studies have focused on the direct addition of TiC-reinforced titanium matrices. The manners in which the size, morphology, and distribution of TiC evolve during the SLM process and how they affect the microstructure and mechanical properties remain unclear. In this study, TiC/TC4 composites with directly added nanoscale TiC particles are successfully prepared by selective laser melting (SLM), and the microstructure evolution under different volume energy densities is investigated. Further, the TiC evolution during SLM and its influence on the microstructure and microhardness are analyzed. Thus, the findings of this study can provide the support for SLM preparation of titanium composites.


    Herein, nanoscale TiC (diameter of 50?150 nm) and TC4 are selected as the reinforced phase and matrix, respectively. The composite powder with TiC uniformly embedded on the surface of the TC4 powder is obtained by low-energy ball milling. Subsequently, the TiC/TC4 composites are prepared via SLM with different volume energy densities (29?97 J/mm3). The forming quality and microstructures at different volume energy densities are observed using optical microscopy (OM) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM) equipped energy disperse spectroscope (EDS). The grain size and crystal orientation are investigated using electron backscattering diffractometer (EBSD), and the phase compositions are measured using X-ray diffraction (XRD). Finally, the microhardness is measured using a digital microhardness tester.

    Results and Discussions

    The optimized volume energy densities for the SLM formed TiC/TC4 composites are in the range of 50?70 J/mm3, with a relative density of 99.7% (Fig.3). Owing to the enrichment of TiC in the melt pool boundary zone, the microstructure of the composites exhibits a special double-sized grain distribution in the cross section (Fig.6). Owing to the rapid cooling characteristics of the SLM process, TiC cannot be sufficiently dissolved. Therefore, the SEM and EBSD results reveal three types of reinforcement: undissolved TiC, eutectic TiC, and precipitated TiC. Undissolved TiC is distributed primarily at the boundaries of coarse β equiaxed grains, eutectic TiC is distributed primarily in the boundaries of irregular eutectic β grains, and precipitated TiC is distributed primarily in the grains. With an increase in volume energy density, the chain-like eutectic TiC gradually transforms to rod-like eutectic TiC (Figs.7 and 8), the size of precipitated TiC inside the grain gradually increases, and the sizes of longitudinal and transverse α'-Ti gradually increase.


    The optimal volume energy density for the formation of TiC/TC4 composites by SLM is 50?70 /mm3, and the relative density is 99.7% within this parameter range. TiC is enriched in the melt-pool boundary region under a strong temperature gradient and Marangoni convection. The microstructure of the composite has a special double-size grain distribution in the cross section, consisting of primary β equiaxed grains and irregular eutectic regions growing on the periphery. In the longitudinal section, the molten pool is a fish scale, and some chain structures exist in the molten pool that grow from the direction of heat flow to the horizontal direction. With an increase in volume energy density, the size of primary β equiaxed grains decreases, outer-ring irregular eutectic region expands, and morphology of fish scales becomes sharp. The microhardness initially decreases and then increases, essentially reaching 385?392 HV in the optimal molding process window. TiC in the composites is composed primarily of undissolved TiC (distributed near the primary β grain boundaries), eutectic TiC (distributed in the eutectic β grain boundaries in a chain or rod-like network), and precipitated TiC (distributed in the grain in a granular manner). With an increase in volume energy density, the difference in TiC size and quantity inside and outside the molten pool increases, chain distribution of eutectic TiC changes to rod, and the size of TiC in the grains increases. Further, no obvious orientation relationship between eutectic TiC and β-Ti is observed; however, a distinct orientation relationship between eutectic and in-grain TiC and α'-Ti exists: {11?20} α'-Ti∥{110}TiC.


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    Hongkang Huang, Xia Luo, Yuhong Dai, Xin He, Yunzhong Liu, Bensheng Huang, Zhou Fan. Parameters and Microstructure Evolution of TiC/TC4 Composites Formed by Selective Laser Melting[J]. Chinese Journal of Lasers, 2024, 51(16): 1602301

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    Paper Information

    Category: Laser Additive Manufacturing

    Received: Aug. 30, 2023

    Accepted: Oct. 11, 2023

    Published Online: Apr. 17, 2024

    The Author Email: Luo Xia (, Liu Yunzhong (