The effect of microstructural changes in 304 austenitic stainless steel induced by the processes of gas tungsten arc welding (GTAW) and laser-beam welding (LBW) on the pitting and stress corrosion cracking (SCC) behaviors was investigated. According to the in situ observations with scanning reference electrode technique (SRET) and the breakdown potentials of the test material with various microstructures, the GTAW process made the weld metal (WM) and heat-affected zone (HAZ) more sensitive to pitting corrosion than base metal (BM), but the LBW process improved the pitting resistance of the WM. In the initiation stage of SCC, the cracks in the BM and HAZ propagated in a transgranular mode. Then, the crack growth mechanism changed gradually into a mixed transgranular + intergranular mode. The cracks in the WM were likely to propagate along the dendritic boundaries. The crack initiation rate, crack initiation lifetime and crack propagation rate indicated that the high-to-low order of SCC resistance is almost the same as that for pitting resistance. High heat-input (and low cooling rate) was likely to induce the segregation of alloying elements and formation of Cr-depleted zones, resulting in the degradation in the corrosion resistance.
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