Powder production and characterization, Advanced alloys development, Recyclability of powder for PBF

We specialize in additive manufacturing (AM) technologies, with a particular focus on laser-based powder bed fusion (PBF-LB) processes. Our aim is to manufacture near-net-shape components that reduce the need for additional tooling procedures and lessen material waste. This is especially vital given the high cost and environmental impact of feedstock materials utilized in LPBF of Al alloys.

We are currently exploring the potential and constraints of employing recycled high-strength Al alloys in LPBF. Our initial investigations are centered around the influence of iron, a common impurity in recycled aluminum, on the processability and crack formation of AlMgSc alloys. Our research extends to examining the Fe-tolerance of a commercial AlMgSc alloy by blending it with Fe powders at varying contents, and conducting subsequent processing and characterization. This includes microstructural analyses and mechanical tests at both room and high temperatures, as well as the evaluation of the corrosion properties of the different alloys.

The next phase of our research focuses on the role of Mg, a solid solution strengthener in the 5xxx series Al alloys, in terms of process robustness and recyclability. The propensity of Mg to evaporate during the process poses challenges in maintaining consistent properties among parts produced at different positions on the build plate and with varying degrees of powder reuses. This loss of Mg not only occurs during the process but also during powder production, impeding the optimal infinite recyclability of aluminum. To address this, we are investigating the effects of these losses on powder and part properties by atomizing some additive manufactured components produced using a Mg-rich and a Mg-free Al alloy specifically designed for AM.

In essence, our research is aimed at expanding the understanding of how impurities like iron or low-melting point elements like magnesium can impact the processability, mechanical properties, and recyclability of Al alloys in LPBF. Our goal is to contribute to the advancement of more sustainable and efficient additive manufacturing practices.