The purpose of this study is to examine the microstructure and micromechanical properties of pulsed-laser irradiated stainless steel. The laser marking was conducted for AISI 304 and AISI 316 stainless steel samples through a Nd:YAG (1064 nm) laser. The influence of process parameters such as the pulse repetition rate and scanning speed have been considered. The microstructures of obtained samples were analyzed using confocal optical microscopy (COM). The continuous stiffness measurements (CSM) technique was applied for nanoindentional hardness and elastic modulus determination. The phase compositions of obtained specimens were characterized by X-ray diffraction (XRD) and confirmed by Raman spectroscopy. The results revealed that surface roughness is directly related to overlapping distance and the energy provided by a single pulse. The hardness of irradiated samples changes significantly with the indentation depth. The instrumental hardness HIT
and elastic modulus EIT
drop sharply with the rise of the indentation depth. Thus, the hardness enhancement can be observed as the indentation depth varies between 100–1000 nm for all exanimated samples. The maximum values of HIT
were evaluated for the region of small depths (100–200 nm). The XRD results reveal the presence of iron and chromium oxides due to irradiation, which indicates a surface hardening effect.
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