The design of new alloys by and for metal additive manufacturing (AM) is an emerging field of research. Currently, pre-alloyed powders are used in metal AM, which are expensive and inflexible in terms of varying chemical composition. The present study describes the adaption of rapid alloy development in laser powder bed fusion (LPBF) by using elemental powder blends. This enables an agile and resource-efficient approach to designing and screening new alloys through fast generation of alloys with varying chemical compositions. This method was evaluated on the new and chemically complex materials group of multi-principal element alloys (MPEAs), also known as high-entropy alloys (HEAs). MPEAs constitute ideal candidates for the introduced methodology due to the large space for possible alloys. First, process parameters for LPBF with powder blends containing at least five different elemental powders were developed. Secondly, the influence of processing parameters and the resulting energy density input on the homogeneity of the manufactured parts were investigated. Microstructural characterization was carried out by optical microscopy, electron backscatter diffraction (EBSD), and energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDS), while mechanical properties were evaluated using tensile testing. Finally, the applicability of powder blends in LPBF was demonstrated through the manufacture of geometrically complex lattice structures with energy absorption functionality.
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