molybdenum alloy power for Metal Additive Manufacturing

Table of Contents

Overview of molybdenum alloy power

Molybdenum alloy powder is an important material for industrial metal 3D printing applications such as tooling, aerospace, oil and gas, and optics.

Key characteristics of molybdenum alloy powder:

High temperature strengthRetains strength up to 1300°C
Thermal conductivityOn par with steel, 2-3X that of titanium
Corrosion resistanceExcellent resistance to acids and chlorides
Common alloysMo-Ti, Mo-TiB2, Mo-La2O3, Mo-ZrO2
ApplicationsTooling, aerospace, optics, nuclear

Molybdenum’s high melting point, strength, and thermal properties make it highly valued for printed parts working under extreme temperatures. It offers new design possibilities over traditional molybdenum processing.

molybdenum alloy power

Applications of molybdenum alloy power

The unique properties of molybdenum alloys make them suitable for:

ToolingPlastic injection molds, extrusion dies, forming tools
AerospaceLeading edges, thrust nozzles, engine components
OpticsMirrors, precision optics, substrates
NuclearPlasma facing components, heat shields
Oil and gasDownhole tools, valves, wellhead parts

3D printing facilitates complex molybdenum-based components with conformal cooling channels and lightweight lattices not possible with conventional methods.

Some specific applications taking advantage of molybdenum alloys include:

  • Injection molds with conformal cooling to reduce cycle times
  • Leading edges on hypersonic vehicles to withstand intense heating
  • Mirror substrates that resist thermal distortion
  • Aerospace thruster nozzles with integrated cooling channels
  • Downhole drilling components needing strength and corrosion resistance

Molybdenum alloys enable lighter, higher performance metal parts across industries.

Popular molybdenum alloy power for Metal AM

Common molybdenum alloys used for metal powder bed fusion 3D printing include:

Mo-TiHigh strength, 1200°C useAerospace, nuclear
Mo-La2O3Excellent creep resistanceAerospace, optics
Mo-ZrO2Fracture toughness, ductilityIndustrial, tooling
Mo-TiB2Hardness, wear resistanceTooling, optics
Mo-ReHigh temperature strengthNuclear, aerospace

The high melting point of molybdenum allows a wide range of alloying additions to tailor properties like hardness, strength, ductility, and corrosion resistance as needed.

molybdenum alloy power Characteristics

Molybdenum alloy powder for metal AM has the following characteristics:

Particle shapeSpherical, some satellites allowed
Particle size15-45 microns typical
Size distributionD10, D50, D90 within tight ranges
FlowabilityExcellent flow, not agglomerated
Apparent densityOver 4 g/cc
PurityHigh purity, low oxygen preferred

Gas atomization is commonly used to produce the spherical molybdenum alloy powder ideal for powder bed fusion printing.

Controlling composition and minimizing impurities like oxygen are critical to achieve target material properties in the printed parts.

Metal 3D Printer Requirements

Printing molybdenum alloy parts requires robust industrial metal printers with:

SystemTypical Specification
Laser power300-500W
Build volume250 x 250 x 300 mm minimum
Inert gasArgon preferred over nitrogen
Precision optics50 micron minimum spot size
Powder handlingClosed-loop metal powder system
Operational softwareFacilitates production rather than prototyping

The high melting point of molybdenum alloys requires sufficient laser power density and gas protection. Automated powder handling systems improve productivity and powder recyclability.

Metal 3D Printing Process Parameters

Typical laser powder bed fusion process parameters for molybdenum alloys:

Laser power250-500 W
Scan speed400-1200 mm/s
Hatch spacing80-180 μm
Layer thickness20-100 μm
Beam diameter50-100 μm
Shielding gasArgon, 0-5% hydrogen mixtures

Lower porosity and higher densities are achieved with higher laser power density and finer hatch spacing.

Process optimization is needed to balance density against residual stresses and cracking tendencies for each molybdenum alloy.

molybdenum alloy power

Metal 3D Printing Design Guidelines

Key design principles for molybdenum alloy parts:

Design AspectGuidelines
Wall thickness1-2 mm minimum thickness
Overhangs45-60° minimum without supports
Surface finishAs-printed is rough, post-process if needed
Residual stressCareful scanning strategies and annealing
SupportsCareful design to minimize use of supports

The high stiffness of molybdenum alloys makes residual stress management critical. Simulation software is needed to optimize scanning patterns and support structures.

Mechanical Properties of Printed molybdenum alloy power

Typical mechanical properties of printed molybdenum alloys:

AlloyDensity (g/cc)Strength (MPa)Hardness (HV)

Property ranges depend on composition, process parameters, and heat treatment. Molybdenum alloys achieve exceptional performance at high temperatures.

Support Structures for Printing molybdenum alloy power

Support structures are often needed when printing molybdenum alloy parts:

  • Overhangs greater than 45° typically require supports
  • Dense support blocks or sparse support lattices can be used
  • Low contact area supports recommended to minimize surface defects
  • Careful orientation minimizes need for supports
  • Soluble PVA or break-away plastic supports available

Minimizing use of supports reduces surface defects and post-processing time. The high stiffness of molybdenum leads to support structures detaching more easily.

Common Defects in Printed molybdenum alloy power

Potential defects when printing molybdenum alloys:

PorosityLow powder density, lack of fusionOptimize process parameters
CrackingResidual stressesModify geometry, scanning, supports
WarpingThermal stressesPreheat substrate, stress relieve
Surface roughnessUnmelted particles, ballingAdjust power, speed, focus
AnisotropyDirectional microstructureOptimize build orientation

Defects can be minimized through careful parameter selection, powder spread, scan strategy, and orienting parts optimally on the build plate.

Post-Processing Methods

Typical post-processing steps for printed molybdenum alloy parts:

Support removalRemoving support structures from part
Surface finishingImproving surface finish
Hot isostatic pressingRemoving internal voids, improve density
Heat treatmentRelieving residual stresses
JoiningWelding multiple printed components

The as-printed microstructure and mechanical properties of molybdenum alloys can also be tailored through heat treatment. This enhances properties like ductility and fracture toughness.

Qualification Testing

Thorough testing needed to qualify printed molybdenum components:

Test MethodTypical Requirements
Density analysis> 99% of wrought material
Tensile testingMeet minimum strength and ductility specs
MicrostructureConsistent, defect-free grain structure
Hardness testingAs required for application
Impact testingMinimum impact energy for fractures

Non-destructive evaluation like CT scanning helps identify any internal voids or defects present.

Selecting a molybdenum alloy power Supplier

Key factors when selecting a molybdenum alloy power supplier:

Quality systemsISO 9001 or AS9100 certified
Powder characterizationProvides particle size distribution and morphology data
Process controlTight control of gas atomization process
SpecializationFocus on gas atomized alloys tailored for AM
Technical supportApplication engineers to assist product development
Customer referencesCase studies for AM applications

Choosing a supplier with powder specifically optimized for AM will provide the best printing results.

Cost Analysis of Printed Molybdenum Alloy Parts

Cost factors for molybdenum alloy printed parts:

  • High cost of molybdenum powder – $350-700/kg
  • Printer productivity affects cost per part
  • Material utilization rates of 30-50%
  • Labor for post-processing steps
  • Additional costs for HIP, machining, heat treat

Cost model factors:

  • Printer purchase investment – $500,000+
  • Low-moderate build rates – 5-15 cm3/hr
  • Moderate-high material

Cost Advantages vs. Traditional Processing

Benefits of printing molybdenum alloys vs. traditional methods:

Additive ManufacturingTraditional Processing
Lead timeDaysWeeks
Design freedomComplex geometries, latticesDesign restrictions
CustomizationEasily adapted designsDifficult process changes
ConsolidationIntegrated, printed assembliesMultiple manufacturing steps
Material wasteNear net shape, low wasteHigh material removal

For low to medium volumes, AM is more cost-effective. Traditional methods have advantages for high volumes.

Sustainability Benefits of Metal 3D Printing

Sustainability benefits of printing molybdenum alloys:

  • Reduce material waste by only using required powder
  • Enable lightweight, optimized designs through topology optimization
  • Localized production reduces transportation emissions
  • Powder recycling further improves sustainability
  • On-demand production avoids over-production waste
  • Consolidated parts decrease downstream processing

The technology promotes more sustainable approaches to engineering design and manufacturing.

Applications Taking Advantage of Molybdenum Alloys

Key applications benefiting from molybdenum alloy power:

Injection moldsHigh temperature strength, conformal cooling
Aerospace thrustersWithstands 2300°C exhaust temperatures
Aircraft leading edgesHigh temperature capability during hypersonic flight
Nuclear fusion reactorsTolerates extreme neutron radiation
Optical mirrorsResists thermal distortion

3D printing facilitates complex geometries not possible with wrought molybdenum parts.

Trends and Developments in molybdenum alloy power

Emerging trends in molybdenum alloy powders:

  • New alloy compositions tailored for AM properties
  • Larger batch sizes produced for economy of scale
  • Tighter controls of powder characteristics and quality
  • Improved recyclability of powders
  • Declining costs through increased production volumes
  • Wider range of available particle size distributions
  • Increased competition among suppliers
  • More supply chain localization outside China

The powders are becoming more optimized and economical as the AM market expands.

molybdenum alloy power

Summary of molybdenum alloy power for Metal AM

  • Essential for high temperature, corrosion resistant printed parts
  • Requires high power density printers with inert atmospheres
  • Careful process control needed to minimize defects
  • Provides performance improvements over conventional molybdenum
  • Applications across tooling, aerospace, energy, optics
  • High material costs but lower total part costs
  • Improved powders and supply chain availability emerging

Molybdenum alloys will enable lighter, higher performance metal additively manufactured components across demanding industrial applications.


What particle size is recommended for molybdenum alloys?15-45 microns typically, depends on alloy and application.
What printers can process molybdenum alloys?High power systems from EOS, Concept Laser, Trumpf, GE Additive.
What finish can be obtained on printed surfaces?As-printed is rough at 10-15 μm Ra. Machining can achieve under 1 μm.
What post-processing is typically required?Support removal, stress relieving, hot isostatic pressing, machining.
How recyclable are the powders?Powders can generally be reused 5-10 times before refresh.

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