Surface texture characterization for thin-wall NASA HR-1 Fe–Ni–Cr alloy using laser powder directed energy deposition (LP-DED)

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Additive Manufacturing (AM) offers new design and manufacturing opportunities of thin-wall microchannel heat exchangers for aerospace and industrial applications. Laser Powder Directed Energy Deposition (LP-DED) is an AM process providing large scale manufacturing of thin-wall microchannel heat exchangers. Successful industrialization of the LP-DED process requires critical quantification and understanding of the metallurgical, geometric, and process limitations. Specifically, understanding the as-built surface texture, inclusive of roughness and waviness, is significant due to its effects on the friction factor and pressure drop within a heat exchanger. This experimental study completed a design of experiments (DOE) to determine the critical build parameters that impact surface texture for enclosed thin-wall samples. This study summarizes the characterization work of the LP-DED process for 1 mm enclosed walls with an Fe–Ni–Cr (NASA HR-1) alloy. The LP-DED parameters including laser power, powder feedrate, travel speed, layer height, and rotary atomized powder feedstock were modified in the experiment. An evaluation of the DOE samples and resulting surface texture is provided along with conclusions from these experiments. Results indicate that 3D areal and 2D profile (directional) surface texture is estimated by 2x the powder diameter that becomes captured or partially melted on the trailing edge of the melt pool. The fine powder showed a higher sensitivity to parameter changes but resulted in a higher density material and 23% reduction in roughness. Surface texture was also shown to vary between closed channel shapes (internal) due to ricochets, recirculation, and higher volume of powder available to bond compared to external (outer) surfaces. The understanding of the LP-DED process as-built surface texture is essential to fluid flow applications such as heat exchanges and can modify performance for enhanced heat transfer or can be a detriment to pressure drop.