Smoothing of additive manufactured parts using ns-pulsed laser source
Additive manufacturing processes are becoming more and more important for industrial applications such as in the fabrication of aerospace components because of the possibility of the technology in reducing part weight. Due to the intrinsic characteristics of process, the parts have a relative high surface roughness level, which in some cases affect their fatigue behavior and mechanical performance. Therefore, the topography is a very important characteristic of the manufactured parts and require further finishing steps to improve their surface quality.
Generally, common surface finishing techniques, such as milling or vibration grinding, are often limited for complex shapes and geometries. In addition, polishing processes by laser radiation have become more and more importance and have several advantages against conventional polishing techniques.
In this context, laser based technologies were used for improving the surface quality of additive manufactured parts made from Ti64 and Scalmalloy® using infrared laser radiation with a fundamental wavelength of 1064 nm. Nanosecond-pulsed laser smoothing was investigated as a method to reduce the surface roughness by ablation and remelting of the material. A large number of parameters was investigated by performing a series of experiments on test samples. To characterize the surface topography of the additive manufactured parts, the samples were analyzed using White Light Interferometry (WLI), Confocal Microscopy (CM) and Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM). The analyses showed a large influence of the pulse duration and the energy applied to the work piece on the surface quality. In detail, it could be shown that the surface roughness Sa could be reduced by more than 80% for Ti64 and by 65 % for Scalmalloy®. The examinations allow to extend the applicability of additive manufactured parts beyond the current state of the art in a wide range of applications, such as aerospace industry.
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