Combining aluminum and steel is a major goal of automobile manufacturers and other industries because the hybrid material reduces the weight of components. However, differences in chemical properties, thermal expansion, and physical characteristics of aluminum and steel are barriers to achieving this goal. In this article, selective laser melting (SLM), which is widely used in industrial fields, was applied to join dissimilar materials by printing aluminum on a steel substrate. Defects of joining during the SLM process, characteristics of the intermetallic reaction layer, and the effects of the process parameters were investigated. The analysis indicates that flake behavior could affect the quality of joining. The phases of the intermetallic layer found in this study were in agreement with other research, but the morphology of the layer was much different. A formula to estimate the join quality in terms of density energy is proposed. The results indicate that the SLM process is a promising method to manufacture a hybrid material.
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