While metal 3D printing may be relatively new to the additive manufacturing industry, the technology’s evolution since its inception has been remarkable. Metal 3D printing, in a very short time, has added value to a wide range of industries from manufacturing, to medical, to automotive, to aerospace and everything in between. This technology is being used to aid in product development workflows, rapid prototyping, tooling, education and the creation of fully functional end-use parts.
Despite the evolution of metal 3D printing technologies, or even the emergence of new ones, the tried-and-true technology of direct metal laser sintering (DMLS) continues to be a popular solution for manufacturing. Let’s take a more detailed look at DMLS, how it works and some of its advantages.
The first step in any 3D printing project is creating a digital 3D model of the part that is to be printed. Digital 3D models can be created using Computer-Aided Design (CAD) software to model the part from scratch. A 3D scanner can be used to create a 3D model by generating a digital point cloud or triangular mesh if a physical part already exists
The digital model is then loaded into a slicing program that will analyze the model and create the instructions that the 3D printer will use to build the finished part layer-by-layer. Once the slicing operation is complete, the file is sent to the 3D printer. The process is fairly automated, other than some general setup.
Once the print run is initiated, a thin layer of powder is then dispersed across the build area. Next, the laser is projected onto the material and then it follows the path for that layer based on the results of the slicing program.
Only the particles in the path of the laser are melted together. This process is repeated layer-by-layer, until the part has been completely printed. After a cooling period, the powder that was not melted, can be cleared from the build area and the part can be removed.
Advantages of Direct Metal Laser Solidification/Melting
The experts at Fathom can help with all aspects of your metal 3D printing projects. Talk to us today to see how DMLS can add value to your operations.