SLM TECHNOLOGY

SLM (Selective Laser Melting) technology allows to obtain final parts with excellent mechanical qualities, which in many cases are impossible to manufacture by other means. Powder bed fusion is the leading technology for manufacturing precision metal objects with complex geometries. It allows to reproduce practically any geometric shape in different metallic materials such as Stainless Steel, Tool Steel, Inconel, Cobalt-Chrome and many other alloys.
On many occasions, densities higher than 99.9% are achieved with a surface finish of around 4-10 μm. Therefore, this technology is very useful to manufacture final parts with very complex geometries and structures with thin walls and / or hidden voids or channel.

How it works?

The process begins with the creation of a three-dimensional (3D) model using computer-aided design (CAD) software. This 3D model is saved as an STL format file, which is the triangulated representation of the model. The software then splits the file data into individual layers and is sent to the SLM machine.

In the configuration of the SLM machine, a heat source (laser) selectively melts a bed of powder previously deposited in very thin and uniform layers (the layers indicated in 3D) on a platform, generating the contour and interior of the part. This construction platform descends in the z axis after each layer a distance equal to the thickness of the layer (generally between 20 and 50 microns), an action that is repeated until the piece is completed.

LASER

The system controls the modulation and firing of a medium power laser, guided by fiber optics to a galvo head that directs the beam over the powder bed.

BRUSH

A brush is responsible for evenly spreading a layer of metallic powder a few microns thick

SCANHEAD

A pair of mirrors direct the laser beam onto the powder bed, specifically melting certain areas of the work area.

LAYERS

After finishing a layer, it moves in the vertical axis allowing work on a new layer of metal powder.

Materials

All materials do not absorb energy in the same way as a function of wavelength. In metal 3D printing, fiber lasers of 1060 – 1080 nm are usually used, which affect ferric and aceric materials in a very specific way, but which on the other hand do not interfere practically with materials such as gold, silver, platinum or cupper. For this reason, printing on these other materials usually requires lasers of another wavelength.

Application sectors

3D metal printing is being adopted in multiple sectors, as an efficient manufacturing method to use in its value chain and as a complement to the traditional methods.

True value is obtained in the production of complex designs that cannot be manufactured with traditional processes or whose manufacturing cost would be much higher.

Aeronautic

High temperature engine parts, turbine components, lightened elements and auxiliary components

Industry and Automotive

Prototypes, spare parts, and individualized components

Medicine

Prosthetics, orthopedic implants and exoskeletons

Dental

Dental crowns, bridges, cantilevers and reconstructions

Moldist

Inserts, mold parts, stamps and full small molds

Education and research

Study of technology, development of new materials and procedures around SLM

Example parts