This paper deals with various selective laser melting (SLM) processing strategies for aluminum 2618 powder in order to get material densities and properties close to conventionally-produced, high-strength 2618 alloy. To evaluate the influence of laser scanning strategies on the resulting porosity and mechanical properties a row of experiments was done. Three types of samples were used: single-track welds, bulk samples and samples for tensile testing. Single-track welds were used to find the appropriate processing parameters for achieving continuous and well-shaped welds. The bulk samples were built with different scanning strategies with the aim of reaching a low relative porosity of the material. The combination of the chessboard strategy with a 2 × 2 mm field size fabricated with an out-in spiral order was found to eliminate a major lack of fusion defects. However, small cracks in the material structure were found over the complete range of tested parameters. The decisive criteria was the elimination of small cracks that drastically reduced mechanical properties. Reduction of the thermal gradient using support structures or fabrication under elevated temperatures shows a promising approach to eliminating the cracks. Mechanical properties of samples produced by SLM were compared with the properties of extruded material. The results showed that the SLM-processed 2618 alloy could only reach one half of the yield strength and tensile strength of extruded material. This is mainly due to the occurrence of small cracks in the structure of the built material.
Keywords: EN AW 2618; aluminum alloy; mechanical properties; relative density; scanning strategy; selective laser melting.