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Laser additive manufacturing of biodegradable magnesium alloy WE43

A detailed microstructure analysis
: Bär, Florian; Berger, Leopold; Jauer, Lucas; Kurtuldu, Güven; Schäublin, Robin; Schleifenbaum, Johannes Henrich; Löffler, J.F.


Acta biomaterialia 98 (2019), S.36-49
ISSN: 1742-7061
ISSN: 1878-7568
Fraunhofer ILT ()
laser powder bed fusion; WE43 magnesium; bone scaffolds; biodegradable implants; WE43 magnesium

WE43, a magnesium alloy containing yttrium and neodymium as main alloying elements, has become a well-established bioresorbable implant material. Implants made of WE43 are often fabricated by powder extrusion and subsequent machining, but for more complex geometries laser powder bed fusion (LPBF) appears to be a promising alternative. However, the extremely high cooling rates and subsequent heat treatment after solidification of the melt pool involved in this process induce a drastic change in microstructure, which governs mechanical properties and degradation behaviour in a way that is still unclear. In this study we investigated the changes in the microstructure of WE43 induced by LPBF in comparison to that of cast WE43. We did this mainly by electron microscopy imaging, and chemical mapping based on energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy in conjunction with electron diffraction for the identification of the various phases. We identified different types of microstructure: an equiaxed grain zone in the center of the laser-induced melt pool, and a lamellar zone and a partially melted zone at its border. The lamellar zone presents dendritic lamellae lying on the Mg basal plane and separated by aligned Nd-rich nanometric intermetallic phases. They appear as globular particles made of Mg3Nd and as platelets made of Mg41Nd5 occurring on Mg prismatic planes. Yttrium is found in solid solution and in oxide particles stemming from the powder particles’ shell. Due to the heat influence on the lamellar zone during subsequent laser passes, a strong texture developed in the bulk material after substantial grain growth.