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17-4PH (equivalent to SUS630) is precipitation-hardened stainless steel, which can be hardened by aging treatment.
α-martensite hardens 17-4PH but γ-austenite does not contribute to the hardness of the product. The most primarily austenitic product, the hardness does not change even if the aging treatment is applied. It has been reported that the percentage of γ-austenite depends on atomize gas, Ar or N2. N2-atomized powder contains a lot of γ-austenite (Fig.1).
Fig.1 XRD spectra for 17-4PH stainless steel powders atomized in N2
When the parts are produced using this N2-atomized powder, the properties of parts build under Ar gas becomes mostly α-martensite and parts build under N2 gas becomes γ-austenite (Fig.2).
Fig.2 XRD spectra for the horizontal reference planes for components build in (left) Ar Gas / (right) N2 Gas environment from N2-atomized powder
The parts build under N2 gas need solution treatment for transforming γ-austenite to α-martensite before aging treatment. On the other hand, the parts build under Ar gas do not need solution treatment before aging treatment.
 Lawrence E. Murr, Edwin Martinez, Jennifer Hernandez, Shane Collins, Krista N. Amato, Sara M. Gaytan, Patrick W. Shindo,
2012, Journal of Materials Research and technology, 1(3), 167-177
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