A method for the characterization of white spots in vacuum-arc remelted superalloys
Vacuum-Arc Remelting (VAR) is an important process for manufacturing Ti- and Ni-based superalloys. Currently, the sources and mechanisms behind microstructural anomalies produced in VAR superalloy ingots are not well understood. In order to help understand formation processes, a method of characterizing specific anomalies in VAR ingots is desired. This paper presents a method of characterizing the composition and morphology of anomalies in VAR alloy ingots using a combination of serial sectioning and X-ray fluorescence (XRF) energy dispersive spectroscopy (EDS) techniques. This process is demonstrated on a dirty white spot from an Alloy 718 sample. The white spot of interest was serial polished and 2-D XRF EDS maps were acquired at each polish depth. The EDS maps were then stacked to form a 3-D representation of the white spot. In addition, SEM and optical microscopy techniques were used to further characterize the composition and morphology of the dirty white spot. The dirty white spot is composed of both Ti-enriched and Nb-depleted regions. The 2-D EDS maps acquired with the XRF equipment provided adequate contrast for creating a 3-D representation of the Ti-rich region of the dirty white spot. However, contrast was not sufficient to create a 3-D representation of the Nb-depleted region. The XRF EDS equipment combined with SEM and optical microscopy techniques provided valuable information about the morphology and composition of the Alloy 718 dirty white spot. It is concluded that this dirty white spot was produced by fall-in from either the crown or shelf regions during the VAR process.