Photonics Dictionary

selective laser melting

Selective laser melting (SLM) is an additive manufacturing (AM) or 3D printing technology that belongs to the powder bed fusion category. SLM is primarily used for metal additive manufacturing, where complex three-dimensional structures are built layer by layer by selectively melting metal powder particles using a high-powered laser.

Key features of selective laser melting include:

Powder bed fusion: SLM is a powder bed fusion process. It starts with a thin layer of metal powder spread evenly over a build platform, and a high-energy laser selectively melts and fuses the powder particles based on the digital design of the desired object.

Layer-by-layer building: After each layer is melted, a new layer of metal powder is spread over the previous layer, and the process is repeated. This layer-by-layer approach continues until the entire 3D object is formed.

Laser melting and fusion: The metal powder is melted and fused by a precisely controlled laser beam. The laser selectively scans the cross-sectional pattern of each layer, following the geometry defined by the 3D digital model.

High precision and complexity: SLM allows for the production of highly intricate and complex metal parts with a high degree of precision. It is particularly suitable for creating components with complex geometries that would be challenging or impossible to produce using traditional manufacturing methods.

Material options: SLM supports a variety of metal materials, including aluminum, titanium, stainless steel, and nickel alloys. The choice of material depends on the specific application requirements.

Fully dense parts: The melting and solidification process in SLM results in fully dense metal parts with good mechanical properties. Post-processing steps, such as heat treatment, may be applied to further enhance material properties.

Selective laser melting is widely used in industries such as aerospace, automotive, healthcare, and engineering for manufacturing parts with high precision and complex geometries. Its applications include the production of prototypes, customized medical implants, lightweight aerospace components, and more. The technology continues to evolve, with ongoing research aimed at improving speed, materials, and overall process capabilities.

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