Additive Manufacturing

Additive Manufacturing and Selective Laser Melting

Additive manufacturing encompases a variety of processes to build, however, they are all based on the same principle of adding material to create opposed to traditional methods that subtract material. Specifically in selective laser melting:

  1. A layer of metal powder is spread onto a substrate plate
  2. The laser selectively melts the powder to create the first layer of the build 
  3. A fresh layer of metal powder is evenly distributed over the build surface
  4. The lasers melt each successive layer to the layers underneath until the desired component is produced

Data taken directly from digital CAD files is converted into individual vectors which the laser will traverse during each layer’s exposure. Unlike laser sintering, selective laser melting completely melts each layer into the previous for completely dense metal parts. Compared to traditional manufacturing methods, additive manufacturing enables parts with complex geometric shapes and hollow structures to be produced and is used in several industries such as aerospace, automotive, energy, tooling, healthcarre, as well as research and development.

I realized the potential selective laser melting technology possessed to disrupt traditional metal part design and manufacturing. It was my goal to develop a reliable technology, but to also commercialize a successful product. I am proud of the advancements we’ve made by partnering with our customers, and supporting them to achieve new possibilities with metal using our technology.

DR. DIETER SCHWARZE, CO-INVENTOR OF SELECTIVE LASER MELTING AND CHIEF ENGINEER AT SLM SOLUTIONS

Why Metal Additive Manufacturing?

3D printing metal has become a cost-effective manufacturing alternative for countless applications across a variety of major industries. SLM Solutions takes a vested interest in your company’s long-term success with metal AM, providing support and knowledge-sharing that elevates use of the technology to the next level. Choosing the right technology is critical, but forging partnerships with the right AM provider is the fastest path to success. Partner with SLM Solutions.

For more resources on planning a holistic approach to implementing metal additive manufacturing check out our white paper, Making the Case for Building an Additive Manufacturing Team

Download White Paper

  • Design

    Metal AM offers the ability to realize part designs that were previously impossible through traditional manufacturing processes. Multiple machined components can be consolidated and printed into one unified part. 

  • Performance

    Features such as conformal cooling, hollowed lattice structures and more grately improve metal part performance and function. Optimized topology allows for parts to maintain their same strength and load requirements while significantly reducing weight. 

  • Time

    Drastically shortened development time for new components without the need for tooling means parts can get to production quicker. Parts can also be printed on-demand and manufacturing internalized providing cost savings and optimized supply chains.

Real World Success Stories

Here are some additively manufactured parts in production, each offering different technical advantages to strengthen their competitive position.

Bugatti Active Heat Shield

Machine: SLM®280 Twin
Material: AlSi10Mg 
Layer Thickness: 60µm
Build Time: 4 hr 4m per Unit

Installed in all vehicles since the delivery of the first Bugatti Chiron from the production facility in Molsheim. This part provides integrated water-cooling channels to serve as an active heat shield to the motor's electric pump. The complex geometry was produced at lower costs than with traditional methods.

Acetabular Cups With Integrated Lattice Structure

Machine SLM®280 
Material: Ti6Al4V
Layer Thickness: 60µm
Build Time: 15h (Maximized Build Chamber, 34 Units)

Selective laser melting machines are able to achieve the fine details needed across the geometry of the acetabular cups to create osseointegration, the optimal connection between the implant and the bone through bone ingrowth of the cup's porous exterior. Up to 34 acetabular cups (Ø44m) can be placed on the SLM®280 build plate which means only 30 minutes of build time per part. SLM® systems enable the user to control the design and manufacture of the lattice struts in terms of shape, size, orientation and spacing, a level of control unmatched by traditional plasma spray coating processes.

Monolithic Thrust Chamber - Cell Core GmbH

Machine: SLM®280
Material: IN718
Layer Thickness: 30µm
Build Time: 3d 5h 34 m (Maximized Build Chamber, 1 Unit)

CellCore GmbH's monolithic thrust chamber takes advantage of additive manufacturing's benefits by integrating multiple parts and internal features. Combining individual parts into single components makes the thrust chamber highly efficient and minimizes individual process steps. CellCore GmbH was also able to improve functional cooling due to an innovative lattice structure which also increases the thrust chamber's stability. Through selective laser melting the production time was reduced from months to days. 

Download Case Study

Getting Started with Additive Manufacturing

Metal 3D printing technology offers many benefits for complex metal part production. Here is an overview of the most important aspects to consider before investing.

APPLICATION

First our team of experts will focus on understanding your application. We will discuss how you want to use additive manufacturing and what metal parts you want to print. We will help you identify any opportuinties to leverage selective laser melting capabilities to achieve your AM goals such as:

  • Part design for lightweighting, reduced post processing etc.
  • Reducing multiple components into one part 
  • Part positioning and nesting to maximize build production 

Download our guide to assist you in identifying and selecting good candidate parts for additive manufacturing.

DOWNLOAD GUIDE

FACILITY

After a thorough understanding of your application needs, next we will review your facility and assist in creating the ideal site for your SLM® machine. To create a turnkey experience we also offer all the SLM® machine support equipment like external chillers, powder sieves and post processing machinery. We can even assist with factory acceptance tests or individual side acceptance tests to ensure that your production meets or exceeds industry standards. 

For more information on preparing your facility download our Preparing Your Process and Facility for Metal Additive Manufacturing.

DOWNLOAD FACILITY WHITE PAPER

AM KNOWLEDGE DEVELOPMENT

Additive manufacturing requires an educated and knowledgable team to keep your production running smoothly. We offer a variety of extended training and consulting programs curated by our metal AM technology experts. Our diverse team is ready to facilitate your journey of AM implementation by assisting with design evaluations, facility and workflow optimizations, industry qualifications and more. 

Directly impact your overall success by taking advantage of our experience to develop your team's capabilities and achieve your metal AM goals. 

MORE ABOUT SLM® SERVICES

TRANSPARENCY

Choosing to invest in metal additive manufacturing is a big step which is why we take a vested interest in your sucess with the technology. To help you make an educated decision we've put together a white paper highlighting the seven most important questions to ask to help select an equipment supplier and partner that best fits your unique business needs. 

DOWNLOAD 7 QUESTIONS WHITE PAPER