In yet another breakthrough development, 3D printing has opened new avenues for engineers and compelled product designers to reimagine what is possible. The ability to print complex metallic parts using advanced alloys is undoubtedly impressive but has its own flaws.
Scientists at Heriot-Watt University in collaboration with Argonne National Laboratory and Carnegie Mellon University shed light on the process with the promise to make metal 3D printing increasingly feasible for manufacturers and more sustainable.
Additive manufacturing how 3D printing is technically referred to encompass a variety of material processing techniques, of which laser powder bed fusion is most widely adopted. It works by transmitting thin layers of metallic powder particles that are joined together through intense heat transmitted by high-powdered lasers. But the process can lead to creation of tiny holes that weakens the overall structure.
This is a key drawback for industry, especially when highly-reliable components are required on a consistent basis. In the last three years, scientists at the Institute of Photonics and Quantum Sciences, Heriot-Watt University have undertaken a research project that examined fundamental physics behind LPBF process, and how this can be used to alleviate defects in printed parts.
The research imagines the interplay between all states of matter present when a laser interacts with metallic particles, stated one of the research associates.
Meanwhile, during additive manufacturing, high-powered laser when applied to metal will result in a small pool of liquid metal as the particles combine together. During this stage, a minute amount of metal vaporizes and presses against the liquid to create a cavity at the center of the melt pool.
Often referred to as keyhole, the cavity can become unstable and collapse to form pores in the material.