Electron Beam Processing of Aluminium Alloys
Electron beam (EB) direct manufacturing is an additive near-net shape digital fabrication process developed recently. The process offers a promising route for the fabrication of intricate speciality aluminium alloy parts for aircraft and aerospace applications because of the excellent energy coupling between an electron beam and aluminium. As part of a fundamental study on EB manufacturing of Al alloys, this work investigates the effect of the EB processing parameters on the development of the molten pool and the solidification characteristics of Al 2219 and Al 6061 alloys. The samples were processed using a 50kV electron beam gun over a wide range of beam currents (10-40mA) and welding speeds (0.3-0.86m/min) in both the static and oscillation focus modes. In the static focus mode, the molten pool is wedge-shaped; while in the oscillation focus mode, the molten pool is hemispherical, wider and shallower. In both cases, the depth and width of the molten pool increase with increasing beam current but they are less affected by the moving speed of the EB gun in the range 0.3-0.86m/min. Electron beam re-melted and subsequently re-solidified Al 2219 and Al 6061 alloys show microstructural features distinct from those obtained under sand casting and direct chill casting conditions. In particular, fine intermetallic precipitates in the size range 100-200nm are prominent in the equiaxed grains formed in the re-solidified weld beads of Al 6061 compared to the coarse intermetallic particles up to 10m in size prior to EB processing. EB processing offers opportunities for aluminium alloy development.
M.S. Dargusch & S.M. Keay
P. Yu et al., "Electron Beam Processing of Aluminium Alloys", Materials Science Forum, Vols. 618-619, pp. 621-626, 2009