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Surface Over-Melt During Laser Polishing of Indirect-SLS Metal Parts

  • J. A. Ramos (a1), D. L. Bourell (a1) and J. J. Beaman (a1)

Laser polishing of indirect-SLS parts made from 420 stainless powder infiltrated with bronze has been achieved using CO2 and Nd:YAG lasers. Two mechanisms have been previously proposed for the reduction in surface roughness, namely: shallow surface melting (SMM) and surface over-melt (SOM). In SMM reflow of the molten surface minimizes the peak-valley height driven by capillary pressure and liquid curvature. On the other hand, during SOM the melting depth is such that the entire surface becomes liquid and formation of surface periodical structures dominates driven by a surface tension gradient. This surface morphology was identified by means of optical and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). The onset of this regime is dictated by the energy density (i.e., ratio of laser power to scan speed and beam diameter) as well as the initial roughness Ra value prior to laser surface polishing. In contrast with SMM, onset of the latter mechanism increases the roughness Ra with speed reduction. A thermo-physical model is presented, signaling good agreement with roughness Ra and characteristic surface wavelength results obtained for varying laser beam scan speeds. Understanding the surface over-melt mechanism is critical for determining the optimum polishing conditions that minimize roughness.

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MRS Online Proceedings Library (OPL)
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  • EISSN: 1946-4274
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