Towards underwater additive manufacturing via additive friction stir deposition

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Given the challenges in feed material supply and quality control, metal additive manufacturing has rarely been implemented in austere environments, especially underwater. This paper explores the underwater operation potential of an emerging solid-state additive technology: additive friction stir deposition, wherein material feeding and bonding are enabled by mechanical forces with minimal influences from water. It is demonstrated that additive friction stir deposition of 304 stainless steel can be successfully performed with the print head and substrate immersed in water. High temperature is reached in the deposition zone (>60% melting temperature); the material deposition behavior is similar to that in typical open-air operation. The as-deposited material is fully-dense, having fewer annealing twins and a substantially smaller grain size than the feed material (4.98 lm vs. 31.44 lm). Such microstructural changes stem from dynamic recrystallization caused by the large strain and high temperature introduced during deposition. In addition to grain refinement, small equiaxed dispersoids (-2-3 lm or less) are formed and evenly distributed in the austenite steel matrix. Rich in Cr, Mn, and O, these particles likely result from the reaction between the elements in stainless steel and water at elevated temperatures. (c) 2022 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (

Underwater, Solid-state additive manufacturing, Additive friction stir deposition, Stainless steel, Oxide formation, Dynamic recrystallization