Increasing turbine inlet temperature (TIT) is important for improving the efficiency of gas turbine engine. Elevated thermal load causes severe oxidation and corrosion for base alloy in turbine airfoils. To survive in this extreme high temperature and harsh oxidation environment, both outside protection like thermal barrier coatings (TBC) and inside air cooling have been applied to turbine blades. Significantly more protection can be achieved if the cooling channels are embedded near surface, constructed partially by the coating system and partially by the superalloy substrate. However, neither the ceramic coating layer nor the metallic bond coating layer in current TBC system can provide structural support to such internal cooling channels. Development of structural bond coating layers consequently becomes one of the key technologies to achieve this goal.

Present study proposed a method to fabricate structural coating layers on top of turbine blades with the aid of additive manufacturing (AM) and oxide dispersion strengthened (ODS) nickel based alloy. ODS powder comprised of evenly distributed host composite particles (Ni, Al, Cr) with oxide coating layers (Y2O3) was subjected to a direct metal laser sintering (DMLS) process to fabricate a desirable structural coating layer above Nickel based superalloy substrates. Systematic experimental tests were carried out focusing on the interface adhesion, mechanical strength, microstructure and surface finish of the ODS coating layer. Based on characterization results from indentation tests and microscopy observations, an optimal coating quality was obtained under ∼250W laser power.

The selected samples were then characterized under isothermal conditions of 1200 °C for 2000 hours. SEM observations and Energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDX) analysis were conducted in different stages of the oxidation process. Results indicated a formation of Al2O3 scale on top of the ODS coating layer at early stage, which showed long term stability throughout the oxidation test. The formation of a stable alumina scale is acting as a protective layer to prevent oxygen penetrating the top surface. Spallation of part of nickel oxide and chromium oxide is observed but the thickness of oxide scale is almost no change. In addition, the observed adhesion between ODS coating layer and substrate was tight and stable throughout the entire oxidation test. Present study has provided strong proof that additive manufacturing has the capability to fabricate structural and protective coating layers for turbine airfoils.

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