Operando X-ray diffraction study of thermal and phase evolution during laser powder bed fusion of Al-Sc-Zr elemental powder blends

Jennifer A. Glerum, Samy Hocine, Cynthia Sin Ting Chang, Christoph Kenel, Steven Van Petegem, Nicola Casati, Dario Ferreira Sanchez, Helena Van Swygenhoven, David C. Dunand*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Elemental powder blends are an emerging alternative to prealloyed powders for high-throughput alloy design via additive manufacturing techniques. Elemental Al+Sc(+Zr) powder blends were processed by laser powder bed fusion into Al-Sc and Al-Sc-Zr alloys, with operando X-ray diffraction at the Swiss Light Source extracting the structural and thermal history of the process. The pure Sc and Zr particles were found to react with the molten Al pool at 550–650 °C, well below their respective melting temperatures. Various scan areas (1 × 1, 2 × 2, 4 × 4, and 8 × 2 mm2) were studied to compare (i) the base plate “preheating” effect caused by prior laser scans, (ii) the return temperature reached after the melting scan and before the following scan, (iii) the initial cooling rate immediately after solidification, and (iv) the time spent in the “intrinsic heat treatment range”, defined as 300–650 °C, where secondary Al3(Sc,Zr) precipitation occurs. Microstructural analysis of the as-built samples show 110–140 nm L12-Al3(Sc,Zr) primary precipitates at the bottom of the melt pool. The 1 × 1 mm2 samples exhibit the most elongated grains (long axis of 10 ± 5 µm), which correlates with the highest build plate temperature and the slowest initial cooling rate (3–5 × 105 K/s). In comparison, the 4 × 4 mm2 samples exhibit the smallest equiaxed grains (2 ± 0.6 µm), corresponding to the lowest build plate temperature and the fastest initial cooling rate (6–7 × 105 K/s). These results indicate the need for establishing a minimum feature size during part design, or for modifying the laser parameters during processing, to mitigate microstructure and performance differences across features of different sizes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number102806
JournalAdditive Manufacturing
StatePublished - Jul 2022


  • Additive manufacturing
  • Aluminum
  • Elemental blends
  • Operando diffraction
  • Selective laser melting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Engineering (miscellaneous)
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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