Metal 3D Printing
Direct metal laser sintering (DMLS) is an additive manufacturing technique that uses a carbon dioxide laser fired into a magnesium substrate to sinter powdered material (typically metal), aiming the laser automatically at points in space defined by a 3D model, binding the material together to create a solid structure.
It is similar to selective laser sintering (SLS) but differ in technical details. Selective laser melting (SLM) uses a comparable concept, but the material is fully melted rather than sintered, allowing different properties (crystal structure, porosity, etc.). DMLS was developed by the EOS firm of Munich, Germany.
The DMLS process involves a 3D CAD model where a .stl file is created and sent to the machine’s software. A technician works with this 3D model to properly orient the geometry for part building and adds support structures as appropriate. Once this “build file” has been completed, it is “sliced” into the layer thickness the machine will build in and downloaded to the DMLS machine, allowing the build to begin. The DMLS machine uses a high-powered 200-watt ytterbium (Yb) fibre optic laser. Inside the build chamber area, a material dispensing platform and a build platform is positioned with a recoater blade, which is used to move new powder over the build platform. The technology fuses metal powder into a solid part by melting it locally through the focused laser beam. Parts are built up additively layer by layer, typically using layers that are 20 micrometres thick. This process allows for highly complex geometries to be created directly from the 3D CAD data, fully automated, in hours and without any tooling. DMLS is a net-shape process, producing parts with high accuracy and detail resolution, good surface quality and excellent mechanical properties.
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