The MAWELA1 research project aims at the qualification of the binder jetting process for the production of light metal components from a magnesium alloy.
Magnesium alloys are characterized by a low specific density and high biocompatibility. Additive manufacturing is ideally suited to fully exploit the potential of lightweight construction through bionic design and to economically fabricate individualized products in small quantities. The MAWELA1 research project aims to combine the advantages of magnesium alloys and additive manufacturing. Although laser-based additive manufacturing processes have the highest technological readiness level, they exhibit a high-risk potential in the processing of magnesium alloys: Due to the high reactivity of the powder, heat sources, e.g. the laser, can cause explosions or fires. The binder jetting process does not require a laser to solidify the powder, and provides the possibility of processing passivated powders, which can further reduce the hazards during powder handling.
The aim of the research project is to establish a process chain for the processing of magnesium alloys by means of binder jetting. In addition, the hazards posed by the high reactivity of the magnesium powder will be reduced by technical and organizational measures and by a suitable passivation of the powder. Thereby, the way for applying the process in industrial series production will be paved.
Initially, a risk assessment for handling and processing the alloy is conducted. The development of the process chain begins with the examination of various powder production methods and the investigation on suitable passivation methods. Subsequently, a binder is qualified for the printing process, which solidifies the powder but does not react with the magnesium. Thus, known water-based binders, which are commercially available, can be excluded due to their reactivity with magnesium. Modelling of the powder-binder interactions supports the identification of the printing parameters and ensures their transferability between different binder jetting systems. The process development includes both, the selection of suitable parameters for printing and the determination of a suitable sintering strategy. Finally, the project will be completed by manufacturing a demonstrator.