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LLNL researchers outline what happens during metal 3D printing, enhancing confidence

NNSA Blog

From left, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory researchers Ibo Matthews, a principal investigator leading the lab’s effort on the joint open source software project; Wayne King, director of the Accelerated Certification of Additively Manufactured Metals Initiative; and Gabe Guss, engineering associate — examine a 3D-printed part manufactured using the selective laser melting process.

While the most common method of metal 3D printing is growing exponentially, moving forward from producing prototypes to manufacturing critical parts will only be possible by reaching a fundamental understanding of the complex physics behind the process, according to a new paper authored by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) researchers. 

The powder bed fusion process, also known as selective laser melting (SLM), requires thin layers of a metal powder to be spread across a build area, where they are fused by a laser or electron beam based on a 3D computer-aided design (CAD) model. The process is repeated until a part is produced, layer-by-layer from the bottom up.

Even though the method has quickly progressed into a production technology, 3D printing of metal parts (also known as metal additive manufacturing) for industries such as aerospace and health care is hampered, according to the LLNL’s Wayne King, by a lack of confidence in the finished parts. This hurdle, he said, can be overcome by a combination of physics-based modeling and high-performance computing to determine the optimal parameters for building each part.

Learn more about it at this link.