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Additively Manufactured 7050 Aluminum using Laser-Powder Bed Fusion

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This presentation will highlight recent progress from Northrop Grumman to develop a high-strength, additively manufactured (AM) aluminum alloy composition for structural applications where high strength, fatigue life, and resistance to stress corrosion cracking (SCC) are required. Traditional high-strength, structural aluminum alloys for aerospace and defense applications are susceptible to hot cracking and solidification defects when subjected to the laser – powder bed fusion (L-PBF) AM process. However, a recent development in AM aluminum is the use of ceramic nucleants, which limit the formation of these solidification defects and makes printing of 7000 - series aluminum feasible. A commercially available, modified 7050 (Al-Mg-Zn-Cu) alloy, which utilizes ceramic nucleants, was evaluated in this study. This alloy is similar in composition to traditional 7050, which reduces the uncertainty associated with post processing, i.e., heat treatment and finishing. This presentation will briefly focus on the demand for high-strength aluminum alloys in the aerospace industry and will conclude with a detailed overview of 7050 development and test results. Select highlights will include process development, successful welding feasibility, and initial property testing.

Learning Objectives:

  • Demonstrate the successful fabrication of a modified A7050 alloy with high density and mechanical properties using readily available laser powder bed fusion equipment
  • Understand the testing and material requirements that are important for high strength aluminum in the aerospace industry and how well those needs are met by a commercially available modified A7050 alloy
  • Describe applications where high strength additively manufactured aluminum alloys can be used in aerospace and other industries
  • Kevin Chasse
    MS Technical Fellow, Staff Materials and Processes Engineer
    Northrop Grumman Mission Systems
  • Crosby Owens
    Manufacturing Engineer
    Northrop Grumman Aeronautical Systems