ManufacturingMarch 12, 2020

Selective Laser Melting

Selective Laser Melting (SLM) is an additive manufacturing process in which parts…
Katie Corey
Katie is the Editor of the SIMULIA blog and also manages SIMULIA's social media and is an online communities and SEO expert. As a writer and technical communicator, she is interested in and passionate about creating an impactful user experience. Katie has a BA in English and Writing from the University of Rhode Island and a MS in Technical Communication from Northeastern University. She is also a proud SIMULIA advocate, passionate about democratizing simulation for all audiences. Katie is a native Rhode Islander and loves telling others about all it has to offer. She enjoys a variety of hobbies including history, astronomy, science/technology, science fiction, true crime, fashion and anything associated with nature and the outdoors. She is also mom to a 2-year old budding engineer and two crazy rescue pups.

Selective Laser Melting (SLM) is an additive manufacturing process in which parts are built layer-by-layer by a scanning laser beam heating and binding powder. Material is heated locally and rapidly above melting temperature and then allowed to solidify and cool to form a dense geometry. Because this process involves large thermal gradients, residual stresses and distortions are generated in the manufactured part. Predicting these part stresses and distortions prior to a costly manufacturing process can ensure build success and that the part will perform under the required service loading.

To date, numerous validations of simulating the additive manufacturing process have been performed on calibration type specimens and microstructure predictions. These coupon level or building block level validations have proven the accuracy of the SIMULIA capabilities for simulating the additive manufacturing process, and the next step is to understand the accuracy in predicted distortions of complex industrial parts.

Morf3D and SIMULIA teamed up to investigate distortion predictions of a Ti6Al4V part, manufactured by SLM. The results were presented at the recent AIAA SciTech Forum, January 6-10 in Orlando, Florida. In this study, a complex topology optimized gimbal mount component from an Unmanned Aerial System, as shown in Figure 1, was considered for physical printing and finite element analysis of the print process.

platform was used to perform SLM process simulations using finite element analysis. Before performing the simulation, build preparation operations (positioning and support structures) were completed digitally to emulate the physical print, and a laser scan path for the build was generated using the physical print process parameters (laser power, scan speed, recoater timing, layer thickness, etc). A sequentially coupled thermal mechanical analysis was then performed to predict temperatures, distortions, and residual stresses. The laser scan path provided a temporally and spatially accurate heat loading for the thermal analysis, balanced by cooling on the evolving free surfaces of the part during the build. For the structural analysis, mechanical properties of Ti6Al4V were obtained from the manufacturer’s datasheet and Johnson-Cook hardening plasticity was used. In both the thermal and structural analyses, additional steps were added after the build analysis to include cooling the part to room temperature, removing the part from the build plate, and finally removing the support structures from the part.

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