A fundamental investigation of thermo-capillarity in laser powder bed fusion of metals and alloys

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Several different interfacial forces affect the free surface of liquid metals during metal additive manufacturing processes. One of these is thermo-capillarity or the so-called Marangoni effect. In this work, a novel framework is introduced for unraveling the effects of thermo-capillarity on the melt pool morphology/size and its thermo-fluid conditions during the Laser Powder Bed Fusion (L-PBF) process. In this respect, a multi-physics numerical model is developed based on the commercial software package Flow-3D. The model is verified and validated via mesh-independency analysis and by comparison of the predicted melt pool profile with those from lab-scale single-track experiments. Two sets of parametric studies are carried out to find the role of both positive and inverse thermo-capillarity on the melt pool shape and its thermal and fluid dynamics conditions. The thermo-fluid conditions of the melt pool are further investigated using appropriate dimensionless numbers. The results show that for the higher Marangoni number cases, the melt pool temperature drops, and at the same time, the temperature field becomes more uniform. Also, it is shown that at higher Marangoni numbers, temperature gradients decrease, thus reducing the role of conduction in the heat transfer from the melt pool. Furthermore, for the first time, a novel methodology is introduced for the calculation of the melt pool's average Nusselt number. The average Nusselt numbers calculated for the positive and inverse thermo-capillarity are then used for finding the effective liquid conductivity required for a computationally cheaper pure heat conduction simulation. The results show that the deviation between the average melt pool temperature, using the pure conduction model with effective conductivity, and the one obtained from the advanced fluid dynamics model is less than 2%.
Original languageEnglish
Article number120766
JournalInternational Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer
Pages (from-to)14
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Thermo-capillarity
  • Melt pool
  • Heat and fluid flow
  • Numerical model
  • L-PBF


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