Fe-Al based intermetallics are potential candidates for a variety of technological applications thanks to a combination of good tribological properties, high temperature strength and oxidation resistance [1,2]. Additionally, their lower density, lower cost and similar electrical resistivity makes them appealing as a substitute for stainless steel parts used in high volume end consumer products. However, Fe-Al intermetallics suffer from low ductility at room temperature and poor machinability. In this context, the need to find solutions to replace Critical Raw Materials (Cr, Ni, Mo and V) in high volume end-consumer products, e.g. steels and superalloys (where corrosion and wear resistance are demanded), has further driven the research in low cost intermetallics .
A novel process for producing a new class of highly advanced ductile Fe-Al based intermetallics is being developed within the EU project EQUINOX. The processing strategy consists in infiltrating molten Al or Al alloy into a porous Fe-based preform to produce Fe-Al intermetallics. In this work, porous Fe-based preforms produced by two different methods (selective laser melting (SLM) and Kochanek-process (KE)) are studied during infiltration with molten aluminum. The infiltration of Fe-based preforms is performed with an in-house designed furnace/infiltration device that simulates a casting process. The in situ infiltration experiment combining x-ray radiography (XR) and x-ray diffraction (XRD) techniques provide information about the kinetics of the reaction, melt flow front propagation and information about the type and amount of the formed phases during post-infiltration heating. In particular, the effect of the reaction time is studied as it is a key factor in controlling the infiltration process.