The defect-free processing of TiAl alloy TNM™-B1 by means of Laser Powder Bed Fusion (LPBF) is demonstrated by manufacturing of an automobile turbocharger wheel. Similar precision cast material was used as reference. TNM™-B1 was manufactured crack free with a density > 99.5% using elevated process temperatures above the brittle-to-ductile transient temperature (BDTT). The preheating temperature was provided by an induction preheating system. To minimize oxygen pick up during the LPBF process, the process atmosphere was actively cleaned using a gas-purification system.
Produced test samples were analyzed in as-built and heat-treated condition regarding density, micro structure and phases by means of a Light Optical Microscope (LOM) and Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM). Micro hardness was measured according to Vickers. Oxidation measurements were performed by means of carrier-gas hot extraction. Mechanical properties were determined using room temperature tensile tests. The final automobile turbocharger wheel was analyzed for defects using a Micro-Computer Tomography scanner (MCT).
Besides bulk test samples, thin-walled specimens can be manufactured with sufficient density. Depending on the process parameters, an oxygen content < 1000 ppm could be reached. The as-built microstructure consists of lamellar (α2+γ) colonies and nearly globular γ as well as β/β0 at the grain boundaries. High cooling rates in the magnitude of 105 to 106 K/s provide small grain sizes of 1–7 μm. Hardness measurements reveal an increased hardness (515-560HV0.3) compared to cast material (390HV0.3). Samples for tensile tests show tensile strength around 840 MPa and a total elongation of 1.1% for LPBF-manufactured and hot isostatic pressed (HIP) samples. The CT analysis of the turbocharger wheel confirms that complex geometries made of TiAl can be additively manufactured free of cracks.