Journal of Minerals and Materials Characterization and Engineering, 2012, 11, 924-930
Published Online September 2012 (
Heat Treatment Effect on Microstructure and Mechanical
Properties of Re-Containing Inconel 718 Alloy
Nader El-Bagoury1,2, Mohamed Ramadan1,3*
1Central Metallurgical Research and Development Institute (CMRDI), Cairo, Egypt
2Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science, Taif University, ElHaweyah, Saudi Arabia
3College of Engineering, University of Hail, Hail, Saudi Arabia
Email: *,
Received July 1, 2012; revised August 10, 2012; accepted September 5, 2012
The effect of Rhenium additions to the standard Inconel 718 (ST IN718) alloy as well as solution and aging treatments
on microstructure and hardness property were studied. The microstructure of Re-containing alloys has higher volume
fraction of δ phase than standard alloy. Conventional solution treatment (CST) at 1273 K for 1 h precipitates a thin film
of δ phase at the grain boundaries as well as needle-like in
matrix; however, after modified solution at 1440 K for 3 h
long, both types of δ phase precipitates entirely vanish from the microstructure. Small colonies of needle-like δ phase
start to appear with aging at 1023 K for 4 h, after CST. Prolonging the aging time to 50 h, these colonies enlarge in size
and spread in the matrix. XRD and TEM observations were used to identify the precipitation of hard
" and
' phases.
The changing in hardness measurements were evidence about the precipitation of these hard phases. CST have higher
rate to increase in hardness with aging time comparing to modified solution specimens.
Keywords: Standard Inconel 718; Rhenium; Solution and Aging treatments; Laves and Delta phases; Hardness Property
1. Introduction
The strength of the commercial superalloys arises from a
combination of hardening mechanisms, including contri-
butions from solid-solution elements, particles, and grain
boundaries. Solid solution hardening is a powerful meth-
od to improve the mechanical properties of this kind of
alloys. In addition, Ni base superalloys always contain
substantial alloying elements in solid solution to provide
strength, creep resistance, and resistance to surface deg-
radation. After suitable heat treatment processes, further
hardened is provided by coherent stable intermetallic
compounds such as
' {Ni3(Al, Ti)} and
" Ni3(Nb) [1].
The mechanical properties of Ni base superalloys have
been optimized, especially the creep resistance, by in-
troducing large amounts of refractory alloying elements
such as W, Ta and Mo. Recently, the alloys designers
made a major step by adding Rhenium (Re) with high
level up to 6% to single crystal Ni base superalloys [2].
Re as a pure metal has a highest strength and superior-
ity modulus of elasticity in comparison with the other
elements in refractory elements group such as Mo, Nb,
W and Ta [3-5]. Moreover, Re significantly retarding the
coarsening rate of
' phase at high temperatures or during
heat treatments [6]. Also Re such as Mo, W, and Ta has a
strong preference for occupying the Al sites in
' (Ni3Al)
' volume fraction. Additions of Re to Ni base
superalloys is beneficial in producing alloys with a small
negative lattice misfit parameter [7,8]. Atom probe in-
vestigations of Re-containing superalloys have reported
pileup of Re at the
' interface and a unique phenome-
non for Re among other alloying elements by forming
clusters within the
matrix and these clusters thought to
be a more potent source of strengthening than other ele-
ments in solid solution [9-12].
In this study, we are trying to improve the mechanical
properties of St IN718 alloy by adding various amounts
of Re. Also the influence of different heat treatment pro-
cesses on the mechanical properties of IN718 alloys will
be investigated. Another aim of this research is to get the
optimum conditions of heat treatment and Re content to
reach the best mechanical properties of IN718 alloy.
2. Experimental Procedures
2.1. Chemical Composition and Melting Process
The same chemical composition as shown in Table 1 has
been used for Re-Containing and Standard Inconel 718 in
the present work. The melting process for Standard and
Re-Containing alloys were accomplished in a graphite
resistance electric furnace under argon gas atmosphere.
*Corresponding author.
Copyright © 2012 SciRes. JMMCE
Then the melt was cooled down to a predetermined tem-
perature (40 K superheat for all alloys) and subse-
quently poured into a preheated ceramic mold under the
air atmosphere, the mold preheating temperature being
kept at 1273 K in all cases. The ceramic molds which
were composed of facecoat slurry including a cobalt
aluminate (CoO-Al2O3) were used to cast the Re-Con-
taining and Standard IN718 ingots.
2.2. Heat Treatment
The ingots were cut horizontally away from the bottom
surface by 25 mm. Then a cylindrical disk with thickness
of 2 mm was obtained from the bottom surface again.
This disk divided to small pieces to be the required
specimens for different heat treatment process. The solu-
tion heat treatment was applied to the as cast Standard
and Re-Containing IN718 alloys. Two types of solution
treatment were carried out, the first one, standard solu-
tion treatment, was accomplished at 1273 K for 1 h [13-
15], while the other one was made at 1440 K for 3 h
(modified solution treatment), both were followed by
water quenching. Solution treatment was followed by
aging heat treatment at two levels of temperatures; 953 K
and 1023 K for 2 h to 150 h.
2.3. Hardness Test
Hardness measurements are very important in this kind
of research because hardness and tensile strength are
clearly related to each other and in turn to the microstru-
cture. Therefore the Vickers hardness was measured with
Akashi Hardness Tester Machine (Akashi Co. Ltd.) un-
der a load of 30 Kg. The mean value over ten measure
ments was evaluated.
2.4. Identification of Microstructure
To investigate the phases presents in the microstructure,
Electron Probe Micro Analyzer (EPMA) was used. Shi-
madzu EPMA-1600 was used to confirm about the pre-
cipitation of
phase. Both Super Back Scattered Electron
(SBSE) and Reflected Electron (RE) images were very
helpful for recognizing and differentiating between vari-
ous phases such as Ni2Nb (Laves), NbC and Delta phase.
3. Results and Discussion
3.1. Microstructure of Solution Treated Alloys
Figure 1 shows the microstructures of cast standard IN718
alloy after solution treatments at 1273 K for 1 h (standard)
and at 1440 K for 3 h (modified). The differences be-
tween the two microstructures for standard and modified
solution treatment are in volume fraction of Ni2Nb phase
phase (Ni3Nb). The microstructure of St IN718
alloy after standard solution treatment, Figures 1(a) and
(b), has a high volume fraction of Ni2Nb phase in com-
parison with the microstructure of St IN718 alloy after
modified solution treatment, Figures 1(c) and (d). As the
standard solution treatment has low temperature and
shorter time than modified one, therefore, the dissolution
of the eutectic phase is less than that for modified solu-
tion treatment. Moreover,
phase is appeared in the
standard solution microstructure of St IN718 alloy sur-
rounded the Ni2Nb phase while there is no evidence on
the existence of
phase in the modified solution micro-
structure of St IN718 alloy.
Table 1. Chemical composition of specimens (mass%).
Alloy C Nb Ti Cr Fe Ni Mo Al Re
St In718 0.06 4.88 0.95 19.45 18.39 52.65 3.06 0.56 -
2.4 Re-In718 0.059 4.76 0.93 18.98 17.83 51.39 2.99 0.55 2.40
3.5 Re-In718 0.058 4.71 0.92 18.77 17.63 50.81 2.95 0.54 3.50
6.0 Re-In718 0.056 4.59 0.89 18.28 17.17 49.49 2.88 0.53 6.00
(a) (b) (c) (d)
Figure 1. (a) and (b) microstructure of St IN718 after solution at 1273 K/1h, (c) and (d) microstructure of St IN718 after solu-
tion at 1440 K/3h.
Copyright © 2012 SciRes. JMMCE
3.2. Microstructure of Aged Alloys
After aging at 1023 K for 50 h, the volume fraction of
Ni2Nb phase in the standard and modified solution mi-
crostructure of St IN718 alloys decreases and the
ratio increases in case of St IN718 alloy, as shown in
Figure 2. The
phase precipitates as needle-like morph-
ology in interdendritic region near eutectic Ni2Nb, Figure
2(a). The aged microstructure of modified solution mic-
rostructure has a lower ratio of Ni2Nb phase in addition
to the complete absence of
phase from the microstructure.
The aged microstructures at 1023 K for 50 h for stan-
dard and modified solution of 6% Re-containing IN718
alloy are given in Figure 3. Figures 3(a) and (b) show
the aged microstructure of standard solution treated 6%
Re containing IN718 alloy, which contains Ni2Nb and
phase. This figure shows the
phase precipitates in both
needle and plate like shapes. The needle type
precipitates surround the Ni2Nb as in case of St IN718
alloy, while the plate like
phase precipitate along the
grain boundaries and this morphology of
phase was not
found in microstructure of modified 6% Re-containing
IN718 alloy, Figure 3(c).
After aging for 100 h at 1023 K, the microstructure of
modified 6% Re containing IN718 alloy has lower vol-
ume fraction of Ni2Nb phase and still no precipitations of
phase, (see Figure 4). In general, as the aging time
prolongs the solution of eutectic Ni2Nb increases. Disso-
lution of Ni2Nb phase leads to increase the available Nb
atoms to combine with Ni again to precipitate as a
hard phase in the matrix. This is the interpretation of the
cause of increasing hardness values versus the aging time.
At the same time the prolonging time for aging at 1023 K,
increase the probability for precipitation of Re clusters as
it is a diffusion dependence process leading to elevate the
hardness levels. Figures 5 and 6 illustrate the line analy-
sis for Ni2Nb,
and NbC phases in aged St IN718 alloy,
standard solution treatment. In Figure 6, the Ni content
in Ni2Nb phase is lower while the Nb content is higher
than in
matrix. In case of
phase, the Ni content is
higher in comparison with
(a) (b) (c) (d)
Figure 2. (a) and (b) microstructure of St IN718 (1273 K/1h), (c) and (d) microstructure of St IN718 (1440 K/3h), (aged at
1023 K for 50 h).
(a) (b) (c)
Figure 3. (a) and (b) microstructure of 6% Re-IN718 (1273 K/1h), (c) microstructure of 6% Re-IN718 (1440 K/3h), (aged at
1023 K for 50 h).
Figure 4. Microstructure of 6% Re-IN718 (1440 K/3h), (aged at 1023 K for 100 h).
Copyright © 2012 SciRes. JMMCE
Figure 5. Line analysis through Ni2Nb (Laves) and (Ni3Nb)
Delta phase (St IN718, 1023 K/50h - 1273 K/1h).
Figure 6. Line analysis through NbC (St IN718, 1023 K/50h
1273 K/1h).
3.3. Hardness Measurements
Hardness gives a good indication about the precipitations
of hard phases such as
" and
'. Therefore after different
heat treatments conditions for solution and aging proc-
esses, the hardness of as cast standard and Re-containing
IN718 alloys was measured to find out the relationship
between heat treatment and precipitation of hard phases
in the microstructure.
3.3.1. Stand ard Solution an d Agi n g at 953 K
The standard and Re-Containing IN718 alloys have been
applies for the solution heat treatment at 1273 K for 1 h
then followed by aging process at 953 K for different
durations of time. The hardness values for standard and
Re- containing IN718 alloys are shown in Figure 7.
Generally, as the aging time increases the hardness value
for both standard and Re-containing IN718 alloys in-
creases as well. The hardness measurements for standard
IN718 alloy always are lower than that for Re-containing
IN718 alloys, as shown in Figure 7. Additionally as the
Re co- ntent in IN718 alloy increase the hardness also
increase when compared after the same aging time. The
maximum hardness was obtained by adding 6% Re to
standard IN718 alloy while the standard alloy has the
lowest hardness value in comparison with Re-containing
alloys, at the same conditions. For instance, after 150 h
aging time, the hardness for standard IN718 alloy is
about 320 Hv and increased to 335 Hv for 2.4% Re con-
taining alloy. By increasing the Re content to 3.5%, the
hardness increased to 346 Hv and finally the hardness
reach about 369 Hv with 6% Re-containing IN718 alloy.
This increment in hardness value for standard IN718
alloy depend mainly on the precipitation of hard
" and
phases. As the aging time prolonged, the ratio of these
hard phases increased, which in turn increase the hard-
ness level. While in Re-containing IN718 alloys, the in-
crease in the hardness value could be related to the exis-
tence of both hard
" and
' and the precipitation of
nano-scale of Re cluster (1 nm) in
matrix [16]. This
could be the clue for the hardness difference between
standard and Re-containing IN718 alloys. Additionally
by increasing the Re content in IN718 alloy the Re clus-
ter ratio increases and in turn the hardness level is in-
creased. Figure 8 demonstrate the formation of rhenium
pentamer, which consists of five atoms of Re combine
together into one cluster [17].
3.3.2. Stand ard Solution and Aging at 10 23 K
After standard solution heat treatment process, as the ag-
ing temperature increases from 953 K to 1023 K, the hard-
ness level increases either. As shown in Figure 9, the
hardness measurements for standard and Re-containing
Figure 7. Hardness for aged standard and Re-containing
IN718 alloys at 953 K at different aging time (standard so-
Copyright © 2012 SciRes. JMMCE
Figure 8. Formation of rhenium pentamer five Re atoms (a)
have combined into one cluster (b) [16].
Figure 9. Hardness for aged standard and Re-containing
IN718 alloys at 1023 K at different aging time (standard
IN718 alloys are increased with the prolongation of ag-
ing time. At any condition of aging heat treatment, the
hardness of standard IN718 alloy is the lowest and in-
creases by increasing Re additions to 2.4% and 3.5% and
the maximum hardness is obtained with 6% Re-containing
IN718 alloy. In this figure, it could be noticed that the
hardness of solution IN718 alloys is increased rapidly
just after aging at 1023 K for 10 h. For example, the
hardness of standard IN718 alloy after solution treatment
is 174 Hv and increased after aging at 1023 K for 10 h to
289 Hv. While the hardness of 6% Re-containing IN718
alloy after solution only is about 200 Hv and increased to
325 Hv after the same aging conditions.
After 100 h aging time, the hardness for standard
IN718 alloy is about 330 Hv and for 6% Re-containing
IN718 alloy reaches 355 Hv. While after the same dura-
tion time of aging but at aging temperature of 953 K, the
hardness of standard IN718 alloy is 274 Hv and for 6%
Re-containing IN718 alloy is 325 Hv. For the standard
IN718 alloy the hardness is related to the precipitation of
" and
' phases while in case of Re-containing IN718
alloys, in addition to the precipitation of
" and
' phases,
the precipitation of Re clusters in
matrix is also affect
the hardness values. In addition, the Re pile up adjacent
' reject the
' coarsening during heat treatment result-
ing an improve in hardness measurements [18].
3.3.3. Modifi ed Soluti on an d Agi ng at 1023 K
Figure 10 illustrates the relationship between hardness
measurements of standard and Re-containing IN718 al-
loys and aging duration time. Standard and Re-containing
alloys had been applied for solution heat treatment first at
1440 K for 3 h, then aged at 1023 K. In comparison with
Figure 9, the increasing rate of hardness level after 10 h
in Figure 10 is lower than that in Figure 9. As the modi-
fied solution treatment has higher temperature and longer
time than for standard solution one, the diffusion for the
eutectic, Ni2Nb, phase is more affected by the modified
solution and in turn the ratio of Nb element that diffuse
in matrix is higher than in standard solution process. Ad-
ditionally, Nb is very important and main element in hard
" (Ni3Nb) phase, which is a vital source of increasing
hardness level for IN718 alloys. Based on the earlier, the
gathering of the required Nb atoms to precipitate
" takes
longer time in the modified solution treatment than in
standard solution one. This needed duration of time just
before precipitations of
" is called “incubation period”.
The longer time and higher temperature in modified
solution than standard solution lowering the volume frac-
tion of Ni2Nb phase in microstructure, which means in-
creasing the ratio of Nb element in matrix leading to ex-
panding the volume fraction of
" in the microstructure.
Therefore, the hardness level of IN718 alloys with modi
fied solution treatment after aging at 1023 K is higher
than that for IN718 alloys with standard solution one.
After 100 h aging time at 1023 K, the hardness for modi-
fied solution standard IN718 alloy is 345 Hv and for 6%
Re-containing IN718 alloy is 394 Hv while in case of
standard solution standard IN718 alloy is 330 Hv and for
6% Re-containing IN718 alloy is only 355 Hv.
Figure 10. Hardness for aged standard and Re-containing
IN718 alloys at 1023 K at different aging time (modified
Copyright © 2012 SciRes. JMMCE
4. Conclusions
1) Comparing to the conventional solution treatment
alloys, modified solution treatment alloys have higher
levels of hardness for the Standard and Re-containing
IN718 alloys.
2) The microstructure of standard IN718 alloy has a
precipitation of
phase with morphology of needle shape
surrounding Ni2Nb phase after standard solution while no
precipitation of
phase after modified solution.
3) The microstructure of Standard IN718 alloy that
aged at 1023 K for 50 h with modified solution has lower
volume fraction of Ni2Nb phase than that with conven-
tional solution alloys and has no precipitation of
while standard solution alloys has needle type.
4) Aging at 953 K increases the hardness of Standard
and Re-containing IN718 alloys, which was solution
treated at 1273 K for 1 h (conventional solution), as the
aging time increases the hardness increases. This is
originating from the precipitation of the hard phases such
" and Re clusters.
5) The hardness level for Re-containing IN718 alloys
is higher than that for Standard IN718 alloys after any
condition of heat treatment. The precipitation of Re clus-
ters in addition to the precipitation of
" phases in
Re-containing IN718 alloys could be the reason.
6) By increasing the aging temperature from 953 K to
1023 K, the hardness increases for both Standard and
Re-containing IN718 alloys, with conventional solution,
when compared after the same aging time.
7) 6% Re-containing IN718 alloy that aged at 1023 K
for 50 h with conventional solution treatment has higher
volume fraction of Ni2Nb phase in comparison with
modified solution treated alloys. Additionally, 6% Re-
containing IN718 alloy with conventional solution has
precipitation of two types of
phase; needle shape and
plate like along the grain boundaries while modified so-
lution alloy has no evidence of
phase precipitation.
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