Processability of a Hot Work Tool Steel Powder Mixture in Laser-Based Powder Bed Fusion

Hantke, N. and Großwendt, F. and Strauch, A. and Fechte-Heinen, R. and Röttger, A. and Theisen, W. and Weber, S. and Sehrt, J.T.

Volume: 15 Pages:
DOI: 10.3390/ma15072658
Published: 2022

Powder bed fusion of metals using a laser beam system (PBF-LB/M) of highly complex and filigree parts made of tool steels is becoming more important for many industrial applications and scientific investigations. To achieve high density and sufficient chemical homogeneity, pre-alloyed gas-atomized spherical powder feedstock is used. For high-performance materials such as tool steels, the number of commercially available starting powders is limited due to the susceptibility to crack formation in carbon-bearing steels. Furthermore, scientific alloy development in combination with gas-atomization is a cost-intensive process which requires high experimental effort. To overcome these drawbacks, this investigation describes the adaption of a hot work tool steel for crack-free PBFLB/M-fabrication without any preheating as well as an alternative alloying strategy which implies the individual admixing of low-cost aspherical elemental powders and ferroalloy particles with gas-atomized pure iron powder. It is shown that the PBF-LB/M-fabrication of this powder mixture is technically feasible, even though the partly irregular-shaped powder particles reduce the flowability and the laser reflectance compared to a gas-atomized reference powder. Moreover, some high-melting alloying ingredients of the admixed powder remain unmolten within the microstructure. To analyze the laser energy input in detail, the second part of the investigation focuses on the characterization of the individual laser light reflectance of the admixed alloy, the gas-atomized reference powder and the individual alloying elements and ferroalloys. © 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

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