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Wire arc additive manufacturing (WAAM) of nanotreated aluminum alloy 6061

Yitian Chi (Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, UCLA, Los Angeles, California, USA)
Narayanan Murali (Department of Materials Science and Engineering, UCLA, Los Angeles, California, USA)
Jingke Liu (Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, UCLA, Los Angeles, California, USA)
Maximilian Liese (Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, UCLA, Los Angeles, California, USA)
Xiaochun Li (Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, UCLA, Los Angeles, California, USA and Department of Materials Science and Engineering, UCLA, Los Angeles, California, USA)

Rapid Prototyping Journal

ISSN: 1355-2546

Article publication date: 17 October 2022

Issue publication date: 3 July 2023

535

Abstract

Purpose

Additive manufacturing (AM) can achieve significant weight savings with only minor compromises in strength if high-performance wrought aluminum alloys are used as feedstock. Despite the advantages in strength that aluminum alloys (AA) 6061 offer, they cannot be manufactured via printing because of hot cracking and other solidification problems. The purpose of this study is to achieve high-quality printing of AA6061 with nanotreated wires.

Design/methodology/approach

Nanotreating was used to modify the AA6061 alloy composition by adding a small fraction of nanoparticles to enhance the alloy’s manufacturability and resultant properties. Wire arc additive manufacturing (WAAM) was used to print the nanotreated AA6061 wire feedstock. The microstructure of the printed AA6061 was characterized by X-ray crystallography, optical microscopy, scanning electron microscopy and energy dispersive spectroscopy mapping. The microhardness profile, tensile behavior and fracture surface were analyzed.

Findings

This work successfully used WAAM to print nanotreated AA 6061 components. The resulting AA6061 parts were crack-free, with exceptional grain morphology and superior mechanical properties. Owing to the excellent size control capabilities of nanoparticles, a homogeneous distribution of small grains was maintained in all deposited layers, even during repeated thermal cycles.

Originality/value

Previous studies have not successfully printed AA6061 using WAAM. Conventional WAAM products exhibit anisotropic mechanical properties. The nanotreated AA6061 was successfully printed to achieve homogeneous microhardness and isotropic tensile properties. The promising results of this study reflect the great potential of nanotech metallurgy as applied to the WAAM process.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors acknowledge the supply of nanotreated AA6061 wire from MetaLi, LLC and the use of the ICP-MS facility within the UC Center for Environmental Implications of Nanotechnology in CNSI at UCLA.

Citation

Chi, Y., Murali, N., Liu, J., Liese, M. and Li, X. (2023), "Wire arc additive manufacturing (WAAM) of nanotreated aluminum alloy 6061", Rapid Prototyping Journal, Vol. 29 No. 7, pp. 1341-1349. https://doi.org/10.1108/RPJ-05-2022-0148

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited

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