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The Truth Behind DMLS Manufacturing

by:Bofeng     2020-09-04
If you've read any of my articles, I've traditionally talked about 3D printing, and the uses of 3D printing I typically cover how it can impact some kind of industry, demographic or other technologies. I haven't truly broken down each individual process within 3D printing, so in this article I'm going to cover (DMLS) or direct metal laser sintering. If I had one sentence to explain what DMLS is, I would say the following: DMLS is essentially the layer by layer assembly through laser melting processes when using metal. Let me go into depth on this form of 3D printing.
First off, in ANY form of 3D printing, some form of product will have to be developed on the computer through various CAD 3D softwares. The 3D printer has to have some model to create pieces in accordance to. The designer or engineer will create the file, send it to the manufacturing facility, and then the 3D printer will use that said computer file as the blueprint. Prior to the 3D printing process, if necessary, an operator may have to design support materials to hold the model intact when manufacturing. The process will then start after the build envelope (also the area on the machine will the product will be manufactured) is filled with metal in powder form. The metals supported through DMLS are tooling steel, stainless steel, cobalt chrome, maraging steel, Inconel, titanium and bronze alloy. The machine will then smooth out the envelope and begin the process.
An ink jet similar will pivot and move across the build envelope in accordance to the design almost like a paper printer would do when printing sheets of paper, which is very likely why the process was referred to as 3D printing. When this jet hovers over the build envelope, it will begin to use a laser to melt each section of powder that it needs to in accordance to the blueprint. These layers being melted are in sections as small as 20 microns, or 40 microns. Keep in mind, the average diameter of a human hair is 20 microns. As one layer is melted together by the laser, another layer of powder is laid on top of it by the jet, and the process repeats. As each miniature layer is stacked, the laser will continue to melt it in accordance to the 3D design. The final product will be ready to use when pulled out of the printer, as each layer was melted together into a strong piece! This form of 3D printing is much quicker than traditional machining methods. It is also usually less expensive. On top of that, this form of 3D printing allows for the creation of geometrically independent shapes that hand crafted pieces, casted pieces, or machined pieces couldn't compete with. This process takes hours and maybe days, not weeks like traditional methods. It is expensive to the average consumer, but it is also much less expensive than traditional machining. This process is truly a breakthrough in the manufacturing world. If you don't think that this is significant, let me break it down in different terms. A machine is creating products at the detail of a human hair through laser melting technology out of some of the strongest metals known to the manufacturing world. Pretty significant huh?

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