Manufacture by Melting

Manufacture by melting


Long exposure image showing the path followed by a laser during selective laser melting, a method of additive manufacturing. The process starts by ‘slicing’ a 3D computer design into layers typically 20-100 micrometres thick, creating a stack of 2D shapes. For the bottom slice, a layer of very fine alloy powder is spread over a substrate. The laser draws the pattern of the layer, melting the powder. The next layer of powder is laid directly on the first and the next ‘slice’ drawn by the laser - the second slice melting onto the solidified pattern beneath. This is repeated with each layer until the complete object is formed. The excess powder is removed and the component heat treated. This process allows incredibly complex components to be made that are light and strong - of particular value in aerospace.

Image © Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology, Aachen, Germany


Light Works Logo small