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Selective laser melting

The process

Selective laser melting is an additive manufacturing process used to build 3D metal objects using high-power laser beams. A thin layer of powder is applied to the build platform in the first construction process step with a squeegee (or a combination of several squeegees). A laser melts the metal powder with temperatures of up to 1,250 °C in the laser focus at the coordinates specified by a CAD file. The construction chamber is filled with an inert gas to prevent oxidation of the metal throughout the construction phase.

Support required

The large difference in temperature between the most recent component level and the already cooled layers can cause undesired effects in the event of incorrect process control, such as distortion of the component, burns, and curling, i.e., bending of the component edges. To avoid this, the workpieces are welded firmly to the base plate with a support structure. This support structure must be manually removed later. Selective laser melting is a resource-saving process that produces little waste, as the excess material can be processed by sieving and reused to a large extent.

Advantages

  • Dense functional parts made of various metallic materials such as tool steel, stainless steel, aluminum, copper, and titanium
  • High mechanical load capacity
  • Good suitability for injection molds
  • Conformal cooling / tempering
  • Long durability of the material
  • Production of components made of copper with high electrical conductivity
  • Good finishing possibilities (such as heat treatment / hardening)

Materials

In this process, metal powder is fused into a solid object. Our systems achieve very high levels of detail. We can produce your objects using stainless steel, tool steel, aluminum, Inconel, cobalt chrome, or copper that features high electrical conductivity and thus enables new applications. All products are impermeable and feature high stability. Depending on the material, with PROTIQ you can achieve wall thicknesses as thin as 0.3 mm.

Read More Download Material Datasheet

TOOL STEEL (MS1)

Characteristics

Tool steel is distinguished by its low distortion and its excellent toughness. Due to the hardness up to approx. 52 HRC, the material is used for functional components, injection molding inserts and springs.

Base color gray
Price
6/10
Precision
9/10
Stability
10/10
Flexibility
7/10
Surface
8/10
Feel smooth,solid,heavy

STAINLESS STEEL (1.4540)

Characteristics

Stainless steel PH1 1.4540 is used in medicine, aerospace and motorsports e.g. for rustproof functional prototypes and small parts. The material features a very high stability and is hardenable up to approx. 45 HRC.

Base color gray
Price
7/10
Precision
7/10
Stability
8/10
Flexibility
7/10
Surface
8/10
Feel smooth,solid,heavy

STAINLESS STEEL (1.4542)

Characteristics

Stainless steel 1.4542 is characterised by its high corrosion resistance and stability and is used for rustproof functional components and small parts.

Base color gray
Price
7/10
Precision
7/10
Stability
8/10
Flexibility
7/10
Surface
8/10
Feel smooth, solid, heavy

STAINLESS STEEL (1.4404)

Characteristics

Stainless steel 1.4404 is commonly used in the manufacturing of watches and jewellery, aerospace, and automotive to produce stainless functional components, spare parts or low volume production.

Base color gray
Price
7/10
Precision
7/10
Stability
8/10
Flexibility
7/10
Surface
8/10
Feel rough, solid, heavy

ALUMINIUM (ALSI9CU3)

Characteristics

The die-cast alloy ALSi9Cu3 is distinguished by its excellent mechanical properties and heat resistance and is therefore used in engine and gear construction.

Base color light gray
Price
8/10
Precision
5/10
Stability
6/10
Flexibility
7/10
Surface
6/10
Feel rough,light

ALUMINIUM (ALSI10MG)

Characteristics

Due to the great casting technological properties, the high dynamic load capacity as well as the good strength, the material is used for functional prototypes and series parts with low weight in motorsports, mechanical engineering and aerospace.

Base color light gray
Price
8/10
Precision
5/10
Stability
6/10
Flexibility
7/10
Surface
6/10
Feel rough,light

INCONEL (IN625)

Characteristics

The nickel-chromium-molybdenum-alloy IN625 is very corrosion resistant and is mainly used in industry, motorsports and aerospace.

Base color gray
Price
9/10
Precision
7/10
Stability
10/10
Flexibility
8/10
Surface
8/10
Feel rough structured, solid, heavy

INCONEL (IN718)

Characteristics

The IN718 heat-resistant alloy is very durable and corrosion-resistant. It is used, among other things, in aerospace, industry and motorsports.

Base color gray
Price
9/10
Precision
7/10
Stability
10/10
Flexibility
8/10
Surface
8/10
Feel rough structured, solid, heavy

COBALTCHROM (COCRW)

Characteristics

The CoCrw alloy is preferably used in medical technology, as well as for functional components and high-temperature applications.

Base color gray
Price
10/10
Precision
8/10
Stability
9/10
Flexibility
8/10
Surface
7/10
Feel brittle, solid, heavy

RS-COPPER

Characteristics

Due to its high thermal and electrical conductivity, the low-alloy copper material RS-Copper is used for prototypes with high electrical conductivity. The material is thermally hardenable, features good mechanical properties and is used in electrical engineering and welding engineering.

Base color copper
Price
7/10
Precision
7/10
Stability
4/10
Flexibility
4/10
Surface
9/10
Feel finely structured, solid, heavy

COPPER (CUNI2SICR)

Characteristics

The low-alloy copper material features great mechanical properties with excellent heat and electricity conductivity as well as high strength. Areas of application include fastening elements, cooling inserts in the injection mold and fittings.

Base color copper
Price
7/10
Precision
7/10
Stability
6/10
Flexibility
6/10
Surface
7/10
Feel finely structured, solid, heavy

Selective laser melting in the application

Laser melting offers designers the opportunity to think in completely new directions. In contrast to conventional mechanical production techniques for metal components, such as turning or milling, the additive manufacturing process provides virtually unlimited design freedom. Due to the layered build-up of the metal components, even highly complex geometries can be produced, for example with undercuts or cavities. Without clamping devices or molding tools, the process allows the production of sophisticated components that could not be realized with conventional techniques or only with enormous effort. Designers can thus concentrate fully on achieving functional goals and optimally exploit innovation potential.

Integrate internal functions and structures

One of the design options in laser melting is the simple integration of functional elements, such as internal channels for conformal cooling. In addition, by means of integral construction, individual components can already be connected to one another during the production process. Subsequent processing and assembly costs can be reduced to a minimum. Finally, lightweight constructions also benefit from the laser melting technique, since significant weight reductions can be achieved by introducing hollow portions or honeycomb structures whilst maintaining high stability and functionality.

Versatile in the application

These constructive margins make laser melting an interesting production technology for a variety of applications. These include, for example, the automotive industry, aerospace, medical technology, and in general all applications in which lightweight construction and bionic structures are required.

The potential of laser melting is no longer being applied solely for rapid prototyping. The produced parts meet high material requirements, such as very good thermal resistance and mechanical strength, and can be produced ready for challenging tasks. Rapid manufacturing and rapid tooling are therefore among the possible fields of application, as is the production of small batches or individual components. Due to the low use of materials and tools, cost-effective production is already available from batch sizes of one upwards. If required, the manufacturing technology can be combined with conventional production processes so that finishing work such as surface treatment, welding, milling or eroding can be easily added.

Technical information

  • Wall thicknesses from 0.3 mm
  • Layer thickness 20 μm, 40 μm, 50 μm
  • Surface roughness: Ra 2.5 - 8 μm / Rz 15 - 50 μm
  • Hardness up to 52 HRC (hardening process)
  • Components up to 250 mm x 250 mm x 310 mm can be manufactured in one piece
  • Tolerances: +/- 0,7 %, min. 0,1 mm

Limitations

  • Slightly rough surface
  • Surface treatment for injection molds and the like is necessary

SLM-manufactured tool inserts increase component quality by

  • Reducing distortion
  • Reducing sink marks
  • Reducing cycle time by an average of approximately 30% and more

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