Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Materials Science and Engineering (PhD)

Administrative Home Department

Department of Materials Science and Engineering

Advisor 1

Paul G. Sanders

Committee Member 1

Joshua M. Pearce

Committee Member 2

Stephen L. Kampe

Committee Member 3

Thomas Dorin


Additive manufacturing, commonly known as 3-D printing, has the potential to change the state of manufacturing across the globe. Parts are made, or printed, layer by layer using only the materials required to form the part, resulting in much less waste than traditional manufacturing methods. Additive manufacturing has been implemented in a wide variety of industries including aerospace, medical, consumer products, and fashion, using metals, ceramics, polymers, composites, and even organic tissues. However, traditional 3-D printing technologies, particularly those used to print metals, can be prohibitively expensive for small enterprises and the average consumer.

A low-cost open-source metal 3-D printer has been developed based upon gas metal arc weld (GMAW) technology. Using this technology, substrate release mechanisms have been developed, allowing the user to remove a printed metal part from a metal substrate by hand. The mechanical and microstructural properties of commercially available weld alloys were characterized and used to guide alloy development in 4000 series aluminum-silicon alloys. Wedge casting experiments were performed to screen magnesium, strontium, and titanium boride alloying additions in hypoeutectic aluminum-silicon alloys for their properties and the ease with which they could be printed. Finally, the top performing alloys, which were approximately 11.6% Si modified with strontium and titanium boride were cast, extruded, and drawn into wire. These wires were printed and the mechanical and microstructural properties were compared with those of commercially available alloys. This work resulted in an easier-to-print aluminum-silicon-strontium alloy that exhibited lower porosity, equivalent yield and tensile strengths, yet nearly twice the ductility compared to commercial alloys.