Laser-based powder bed fusion is an additive manufacturing process in which a high-power laser melts a thin layer of metal powder layer by layer to yield a three-dimensional object. An inert gas must remove process byproducts formed during laser processing to ensure a stable and consistent process. The process byproducts include a plasma plume and spatter particles. An NC sensor gantry is installed inside a bespoke open-architecture laser-based powder bed fusion system to experimentally characterize the gas velocity throughout the processing area. The flow maps are compared to manufactured samples, where the relative density and melt pools are analyzed, seeking a potential correlation between local gas flow conditions and the components. The results show a correlation between low gas flow velocities and increased porosity, leading to lower part quality. Local flow conditions across the build plate also directly impact components, highlighting the importance of optimizing the gas flow subsystem. The experimental flow analysis method enables optimization of the gas flow inlet geometry, and the data may be used to calibrate the computational modeling of the process.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was funded by the Poul Due Jensen Foundation (grant number 2018-017).
- Cross flow
- Experimental anemometry
- Metal laser powder bed fusion
- Shielding gas