The optimal gas and supply concept for Laser Beam Melting
Laser beam melting is the most common additive manufacturing methods for metal pieces made of stainless steel, titanium aluminum, cobalt-chrome and nickel based alloys. The process uses an atmosphere comprised of an inert gas - typically argon or nitrogen. The gas reduces the amount of air components in the build chamber and protect the material for instance by preventing oxidation.
In addition the gas flow removes spatter and fumes effectively removed protecting the build chamber and optics from accumulation of dirt.
Learn more about: Laser Beam Melting
Laser Beam Melting (LBM) is a powder-bed based process that uses a high power-density laser to melt and fuse metallic powder layer by layer to form a 3D geometry. The process is also known and marketed through diverse (brand) names, e.g. Selective Laser Melting (SLM), Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS), LaserCusing, Laser Metal Fusion (LMF), Direct Metal Printing (DMP), Laser Sintering, etc. - which can sometimes be confusing. We use the neutral and internationally standardized term Laser Beam Melting.
How it works
Metal powder is evenly distributed on a powder bed. A laser as fuses slices of a 3D model by selectively melting the powder. Once a layer is finished, the build platform lowers and a a new layer of powder is placed on top. The process is repeated layer after layer until the part is complete.
Chosing the right gas makes the difference
The choice for the optimal process gas depens on material and quality requirements. For processing titanium alloys argon is required. For other materials nitrogen can be a suitable and more economic alternative.
Scientific research has shown that both the gas used for powder production during gas atomization as well as the gas used during laser beam melting influence the microstructure of the final part. Hence, your quality requirements determine which gas to use.
If the gas supply is interrupted, there will typically be defects and the job needs to be redone. That is why a reliable and continuous gas supply is important.
Tailor-made solutions to realize a reliable, economic and future-proof gas supply
Electron Beam Melting (EBM)
Electron beam melting offers high build rates and is often used for medical and aviation parts. The process uses an electron beam as an energy source and operates under vacuum conditions at elevated temperatures. The use of minimal amounts of helium during the process prevents charging of powder particles. After the build process, a helium atmosphere allows both powder and final parts to cool down faster.