The purpose of this paper is a feasibility study that was performed to investigate the basic processability of a diamond-containing metal matrix. Powder-bed-based additive manufacturing processes such as selective laser melting (SLM) offer a huge degree of freedom, both in terms of part design and material options. In that respect, mixtures of different powders can offer new ways for the manufacture of materials with tailored properties for special applications such as metal-based cutting or grinding tools with incorporated hard phases.
A two-step approach was used to first investigate the basic SLM-processability of a Cu-Sn-Ti-Zr alloy, which is usually used for the active brazing of ceramics and superhard materials. After the identification of a suitable processing window, the processing parameters were then applied to a mixture of this matrix material with 10-20 volume per cent artificial, Ni-coated mono-crystalline diamonds.
Even though the processing parameters were not yet optimized, stable specimens out of the matrix material could be produced. Also, diamond-containing mixtures with the matrix material resulted in stable specimens, where the diamonds survived the layer-wise build process with the successive heat input, as almost no graphitization was observed. The diamond particles are fully embedded in the Cu-Sn-Ti-Zr matrix material. The outer part of the diamonds partly dissolves in the matrix during the SLM process, forming small TiC particles and most likely a thin TiC layer around the diamond particles.
The feasibility study approved the SLM processing capabilities of a metal-diamond composite. Although some cracking phenomena sill occur, this seems to be an interesting and promising way to create new abrasive tools with added value in terms of internal and local lubrication supply, tooling temperature control and improved tooling durability.
The authors gratefully acknowledge Mr M. Schneider and Mr M. Voegtlin for their support in the production of test specimens.
Spierings, A.B., Leinenbach, C., Kenel, C. and Wegener, K. (2015), "Processing of metal-diamond-composites using selective laser melting", Rapid Prototyping Journal, Vol. 21 No. 2, pp. 130-136. https://doi.org/10.1108/RPJ-11-2014-0156
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited