Multimaterial additive manufacturing, Balling, Single bead, Zirconia, 316 stainless steel, 316 SS, Powder bed fusion, In situ alloying


Purpose – dding dopants to a powder bed could be a cost-effective method for spatially varying the material properties in laser powder bed fusion (LPBF) or for evaluating new materials and processing relationships. However, these additions may impact the selection of processing parameters. Furthermore, these impacts may be different when depositing nanoparticles into the powder bed than when the same composition is incorporated into the powder particles as by ball milling of powders or mixing similarly sized powders. This study aims to measure the changes in the single bead characteristics with laser power, laser scan speed, laser spot size and quantity of zirconia nanoparticle dopant added to SS 316 L powder.

Design/methodology/approach – A zirconia slurry was inkjet-printed into a single layer of 316 SS powder and dried. Single bead experiments were conducted on the composite powder. The line type (continuous vs balling) and the melt pool geometry were compared at various levels of zirconia doping.

Findings – The balling regime expands dramatically with the zirconia dopant to both higher and lower energy density values indicating the presence of multiple physical mechanisms that influence the resulting melt track morphology. However, the energy density required for continuous tracks was not impacted as significantly by zirconia addition. These results suggest that the addition of dopants may alter the process parameter ranges suitable for the fabrication of high-quality parts.

Originality/value – This work provides new insight into the potential impact of material doping on the ranges of energy density values that form continuous lines in single bead tests. It also illustrates a potential method for spatially varying material composition for process development or even part optimization in powder bed fusion without producing a mixed powder that cannot be recycled.

Original Publication Citation

Davis, T., Nelson, T.W. and Crane, N.B. (2022), "Impact of zirconia slurry in steel powder on melt pool characteristics in laser powder bed fusion", Rapid Prototyping Journal, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date



Rapid Prototyping Journal




Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering


Mechanical Engineering

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor