Virtual and Physical Prototyping (Dec 2023)

Towards supportless laser powder bed fusion: fundamental understanding of the formation of 1st layer overhang through parameter optimisation and in-situ high-speed thermal imaging

  • Chun Kit Sit,
  • Louis N. S. Chiu,
  • Yunlong Tang,
  • Aijun Huang

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 18, no. 1


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One of the most revolutionary aspects of Laser Powder Bed Fusion (LPBF) is to be able to lift the design constraints from conventional manufacturing. However, as a rule of thumb, any surfaces lower than 45° with respect to the horizontal plane would still require sacrificial supports in order to complete the printing. Fundamentally, it is unclear whether it is feasible to print a 1st layer 0° overhang nor how the print parameters for the 1st layer can be optimised. This research demonstrates that large 1st layer 0° overhangs can be printed with a coverage above 90%. For the first time, the parameter space of laser power, scan speed and hatch spacing for the 1st layer has been simultaneously explored efficiently. The use of the rate of change of the mushy zone is proposed for the parameter selection instead of the average melt pool temperature. Adaptive Parameter 28 (AP28: 250W_4000 mm/s_50 µm) is the best choice. Several surface morphological phenomena are discussed. The core parameter (285W_960 mm/s_110 µm) causes severe balling and its mechanism is revealed. The average melt pool temperature of the 1st layer by the core parameter is lower than that of the bulk. The ramifications beyond the 1st layer are also illustrated.