A novel hybrid approach to laser additive manufacturing of aluminum alloys with concurrent cryogenic quenching for improved microstructure and hardness

C. Grohol, Y.C. Shin
Purdue University,
United States

Keywords: additive manufacturing, aluminum alloys, cladding, hybrid process, heat treatment


In this study, a method to deposit quench-sensitive age-hardening aluminum alloy clads is presented, which produces a hardness similar to the T6 temper without the requirement of solution heat treatment. A high-powered diode laser is scanned across the workpiece surface and material feedstock is delivered and melted via off-axis powder injection. The cladding process is immediately followed by quenching with liquid nitrogen, which improves the cooling rate of the quench-sensitive material and increases the hardness response to subsequent precipitation heat treatment. The method was demonstrated on the laser cladding of aluminum alloy 6061 powder on 6061-T6511 extruded bar substrates of 12.7 mm thickness. Single-track single-layer clads were deposited at a laser power of 3746 W, scan speed of 5 mm/s, and powder feed rate of 18 g/min. The in-situ liquid nitrogen quenching improved the clad hardness by 15.7% from 73.1 HV to 84.6 HV and the heat-affected zone hardness by 19.3% from 87.1 HV to 103.9 HV. Extending the process to multi-track multi-layer cladding further increased the clad hardness to 89.3 HV, close to the T6 temper hardness of 90 HV. Transmission electron microscopy revealed the increased precipitate density in the liquid nitrogen quenched clads responsible for the higher hardness.