Since LPBF builds up structure directly from CAD data layer by layer, it can produce highly complex components from metallic materials without using shaping tools, materials that cannot be produced using conventional manufacturing processes such as casting or machining. LPBF can be used to generate novel components with innovative functionalities because previous production-related restrictions are no longer relevant.
Almost all currently available LPBF machines have a movable build platform on which a powder layer is applied by a powder coating unit. The surface of this powder bed is then melted by laser in accordance with the component geometry to be produced. The laser beam required for this is deflected via a galvanometer scanner and focused with a flat field lens (F-theta optics) or a vario optical system. Metallic materials are processed in an inert gas atmosphere, with the gas circuit also performing the task of removing flue gases and process-related spatter.
The components used (beam source, optics, powder applica-tion unit and axis systems) influence various properties of the overall system, such as process speed, downtime, component quality and automation capability. The appropriate selection and combination of individual components for the correspond-ing application is, therefore, decisive for the economical use of Laser Powder Bed Fusion.