Forming Process Simulation for Manufacturing Optimization in Areva Creusot Forge and Industeel

The grain size of the austenitic stainless steel is an important issue for parts such as primary pipes in nuclear power plants and more globally for metal forming. Having tools which can predict at least the final grain size distribution for these materials is strongly required.

It is in this frame that ACF worked for several years with other industrial and academic partners such as INDUSTEEL CRMC, Aubert & Duval, Ascometal, CEA Valduc and CEMEF Mines ParisTech on the simulation of the recrystallization (ReX) of 304L austenitic stainless steel. Recent developments allowed simulation in a full-field context of the static recrystallization (SRX) of 304L stainless steel including a crystal plasticity formulation in a finite element (FE) context in order to model precisely the grain deformation anisotropy. This crystal plasticity model includes a decomposition of the dislocation density in SSDs (Statistically Stored Dislocations) and GNDs (Geometrically Necessary Dislocations). Including the GNDs gave better results on the localization of the strain but also allowed to define more relevant nucleation criteria. During and after ReX, the grain growth phenomenon due to capillarity effects is also modelled. To take into account capillarity effects enables to reproduce precisely the final microstructure morphology (shape of the grains, equilibrium angles at multiple junctions...). This full-field approach gives very good results for the modelling of 304L stainless steel SRX.

In parallel, at plants, forging and rolling processes need to be simulated in order to optimize fabrication sequences in terms of material distortion capability versus rheological properties of these materials and in terms of grain size with potential impact on ultrasonic inspection performance. In order to verify the process capability, a reduced ¼ scale component of 304L stainless steel primary pipes has been fabricated in a similar forging sequence. Study of the recrystallization aspect at different locations of the component was part of the objectives of the project.

The paper gives a view of all combined approaches: theoretical approach by recrystallization modeling as well as simulation of forging and rolling sequences with Forge® software (coupled to a mean-field metallurgical model called Thermide) and fabrication of a reduced scale part with nozzles as a test before the fabrication of the final component.