Selective laser sintering has been used to fabricate an aluminium alloy powder preform which is subsequently debound and infiltrated with a second aluminium alloy. This represents a new rapid manufacturing system for aluminium that can be used to fabricate large, intricate parts. The base powder is an alloy such as AA6061. The infiltrant is a binary or higher-order eutectic based on either Al-Cu or At-Si. To ensure that infiltration occurs without loss of dimensional precision, it is important that a rigid skeleton forms prior to infiltration. This can be achieved by the partial transformation of the aluminium to aluminium nitride. In order for this to occur throughout the component, magnesium powder must be added to the alumina support powder which surrounds the part in the furnace. The magnesium scavenges the oxygen and thereby creates a microclimate in which aluminium nitride can form. The replacement of the ionocovalent Al2O3 with the covalent AlN on the surface of the aluminium powders also facilitates wetting and thus spontaneous and complete infiltration. (C) 2004 Acta Materialia Inc. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Sercombe, T., & Schaffer, G. B. (2004). On the role of magnesium and nitrogen in the infiltration of aluminium by aluminium for rapid prototyping applications. Acta Materialia, 52(10), 3019-3025. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.actamat.2004.03.004