Direct Metal Laser Sintering

A. Process

Direct metal laser sintering is a 3D printing process that uses a laser to sinter powdered metal material, layer by layer to form solid 3D prototype parts. The powdered material is preheated to a temperature slightly below melting point to make it easier for the laser to fuse the material together into a solid 3D prototype. As with any form of 3D printing, the process begins with a CAD file, which is then converted by a software into hundreds of horizontal layers depending on its size.

Once the CAD data is sent to the 3D printer, the laser creates the first layer by selectively fusing, or sintering, the material by scanning the cross sections onto the surface of the bed of powder. Once the first cross section is complete, the powder bed is lowered by the thickness of one layer, a new layer of powder is applied above, and the process repeats until the entire prototype is complete.

B. Materials

1. Aluminum (AlSi10Mg)
This material offers good strength, hardness and dynamic properties and hence also used for parts subject to high loads. This material is ideal for applications which require a combination of good thermal properties and low weight. It is typically used to cast parts with thin walls and complex geometry.
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2. Cobalt Chrome (SP2)
This material is a cobalt-chrome-molybdenum-based super alloy with excellent tensile strength and hardness. It is commonly used for prototyping.
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3. Inconel (625)
This material has good corrosion resistance and tensile strength. This material is suitable for building complex parts for high temperature and high strength applications. It is expected to have good corrosion resistance in various corrosive environments.
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4. Inconel (718)
This material has high tensile, fatigue, creep and rupture strength. This material is suitable for high temperature applications and has excellent potential for cryogenic applications.
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5. Stainless Steel (17-4 PH)
This material has good ductility and corrosion resistance. This material has also has high strength and is suitable for functional prototypes and small series products.
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6. Stainless Steel (316L)
This material has good corrosion resistance. This material is widely used in a variety of consumer, aerospace, and automotive applications.
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7. Titanium (Ti64)
This material has excellent mechanical properties and corrosion resistance combined with low specific weight. This material is widely used in a variety of medical, aerospace and other engineering applications.
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C. Design Guidelines

1. Maximum build size
Maximum size for prototype parts that can be built using current technology is 15.75 in. x 15.75 in. x 15.75 in.

2. Tolerances
Tolerances of ±0.003 in. can be typically achieved on prototypes that are well designed.

D. Surface Finishes
Prototypes produced using this technology can be polished or machined to get a superior finish.

E. Applications
Parts produced using this technology are most suited for prototyping functional metal parts. Prototypes made using this 3D printing technology are good for parts that cannot be easily die casted or machined.

Created by RedOrum