Laser Powder Bed Fusion (LPBF), also known as Selective Laser Melting (SLM) is an additive manufacturing / 3D printing process with applications across industry.
It begins with the creation of a 3D CAD model, which is numerically sliced into a number of finite layers. For each sliced layer a laser scan path is calculated which defines both the boundary contour and some form of fill sequence, often a raster pattern.
Each layer is then sequentially recreated by melting sections of a bed of powder using a laser beam. After each layer the powder is spread uniformly by a wiper and the process repeats, the melted particles fusing and solidifying to form a component, layer by layer.
What are the Benefits of Using the Laser Powder Bed Fusion Process?
The design freedom afforded by LPBF creates opportunities for the design and manufacture of parts with previously impossible geometries. We can help you produce parts with low volumes but high surface areas, such as advanced heat exchangers or heatsinks, or parts with intricate internal channels, such as components carrying internally fed fluids.
LPBF is also ideal for creating highly customised parts. The medical industry is already taking advantage of this flexibility to create orthopaedic implants precisely tailored to individual patients and therefore much less likely to be rejected by the recipient’s immune system.
Other benefits include the following:
- Reduced material wastage and costs (superior buy-to-fly ratio)
- Improved production development cycle
- Ideal for rapid prototyping and low-volume production
- Capable of producing functionally graded parts
- Allows for fully customised parts to suit individual requirements