Development of 7050 T-74 Aluminum Alloy Alternative for use in Additive Manufacturing (AM) Systems

Period of Performance: 06/10/2015 - 12/15/2015


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Questek Innovations LLC
1820 Ridge Ave. Array
Evanston, IL 60201
Principal Investigator


Additive Manufacturing (AM) promises to be an innovative technology that can enable rapid manufacturing of complex parts at greatly reduced cycle time. Application of this technology to the manufacture of aircraft structural components is limited by the lack of high-strength aluminum alloys optimized for AM processing. In this Phase I SBIR program, QuesTek Innovations, a leader in the field of integrated computational materials engineering (ICME), proposes to develop a new class of 7000-series aluminum alloys optimized for AM. QuesTek is uniquely suited to rapidly designing new aluminum alloys for AM using its Materials by Design? stage-gate development process, which is based upon computationally-implemented mechanistic models to predict process-structure and structure-property relationships. QuesTek?s alloy design strategy will target an optimization of conventional Al-Zn-based alloys against the characteristic hot tearing susceptibility that currently limits the AM processability of high-strength aluminum alloys (such as 7050-T74).Engineers at Northrop Grumman and Boeing have expressed direct interest in the development of new Al-based alloys for AM, and will act define material property objectives for aircraft structural components. QuesTek is teaming with 3DSIM and LPW Technology to link microstructural prediction to processing variables and accelerate specification development for the new alloy. Technical feasibility will be demonstrated in Phase I using pilot-scale powder production and DMLS processing in partnership with Stratasys Direct Manufacturing. QuesTek?s partnership provides a close collaboration between material design, powder development, AM processing, and OEM.