Selective laser melting (SLM) is an additive manufacturing technique that can be used to make the near-net-shape metal parts. M2 is a high-speed steel widely used in cutting tools, which is due to its high hardness of this steel. Conventionally, the hardening heat treatment process, including quenching and tempering, is conducted to achieve the high hardness for M2 wrought parts. It was debated if the hardening is needed for additively manufactured M2 parts. In the present work, the M2 steel part is fabricated by SLM. It is found that the hardness of as-fabricated M2 SLM parts is much lower than the hardened M2 wrought parts. The characterization was conducted including X-ray diffraction (XRD), optical microscopy, Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM), and energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDS) to investigate the microstructure evolution of as-fabricated, quenched, and tempered M2 SLM part. The M2 wrought part was heat-treated simultaneously with the SLM part for comparison. It was found the hardness of M2 SLM part after heat treatment is increased and comparable to the wrought part. Both quenched and tempered M2 SLM and wrought parts have the same microstructure, while the size of the carbides in the wrought part is larger than that in the SLM part.

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