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Laser Additive Manufacturing of High Reflectivity Metallic Materials Using Pore-Free Non-Equiaxed Powders

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Atomized metal powders currently available for additive manufacturing (AM) pose challenges of cost, waste, storage and handling-related safety hazards, thereby hindering the broader adoption of metal additive manufacturing into new industrial applications. In this work, a mechanical solid-state process is used to convert bar stock of copper and aluminium alloys into non-equiaxed, pore-free powder. This powder manufacturing approach, which is applicable to a wide variety of metal and polymers, was tested for feasibility using laser powder bed fusion (LPBF) AM. 

LPBF of high-reflectivity materials such as Cu and Al alloys poses processing challenges of porosity and cracking. A combination of physics-driven LPBF processing diagrams, melt pool simulations, beam path planning, and advanced material characterization equipment including X-ray computed tomography, in situ optical tomography, and in situ powder bed imaging were used in the process parameters development cycle. Our efforts to careful control of vaporization during LPBF are expected to lead to high-density parts and reduction of hot cracking, a known concern during LPBF of high strength Al alloys. 

Learning Objectives:

  • Understand opportunities in new powder production methods.
  • Learn about methods for overcoming challenges in printing high reflectivity alloys.
  • Describe opportunities in printing with non-spherical powder morphologies.