Stainless austenitic steels like the 316L are very popular in the field of Additive Manufacturing. This clearly is due to the easy processability of austenitc steels in the AM process. Austentic steels can be printed with little distortion, which means that less support structures are required. This again reduces cost-intensive build-time as well as post-processing requirements. One disadvantage, however, is that austenitic steels have a low hardness and - as a consequence - low wear resistance. In this study, a new and especially for the AM-process developed high manganese austenitic steel and a conventional 316L are plasma-nitrided for a comparison in surface hardness. Due to the high manganese content of the new AM steel, a sufficiently deep nitride layer with a high hardness can be achieved. Thus, the new AM steel shows a deeper nitride layer as well as a higher nitride layer hardness than the comparative steel 316L. At the same time, the high-manganese AM steel has a doubled tensile strength as well as yield strength compared to 316L.
The combination of easy processing in the AM process together with subsequent post-treatment offers a cost-optimized application opportunity for this austenitic steel as a tool steel.