A pragmatic approach for assessment of laser-induced compressive residual stress profiles
Laser hardening is a very efficient technique for local surface treatment, however, in case of complex and large components robust processing is highly challenging due to limitations in terms of the absolute size of the overall heat-affected zone. As is shown in the present work, an increased in-depth effect can be achieved by tailoring the laser parameters without melting the surface layer. Optimization of process parameters leads to an elaborate test design demanding numerous verification measurements to determine essential material properties. In this context, the evaluation of compressive residual stress values in the surface layer is very important, e.g. in case of fatigue loaded components. However, residual stress profile measurements obtained by X-ray diffraction are very time-consuming and, thus, can significantly impair the laser parameter development cycle. For this reason, the present study introduces a novel pragmatic approach allowing for qualitative evaluation of laser-induced compressive residual stress states, in particular for multiple laser pass processes based on a Gaussian-like intensity profile. Based on straightforward analytical evaluation, several characteristic features of the affected surface layer, e.g. the position of the residual stress transition zone, can be correlated to a change of the local energy input. A novel parameter referred to as modified area energy is established in present work for this purpose. This novel energy approach provides for an essential contribution to the field of laser hardening to considerably shorten the experimental effort within the laser parameter search.