Laser Penetration in a Powder Bed During
Selective Laser Sintering of Metal Powders:
Simulations versus Experiments

T. Laoui1, X. Wang2, T. H. C. Childs3, J. P. Kruth2, L. Froyen1
1Dept. of Metallurgy & Materials Engineering, University of Leuven (KULeuven), Heverlee, 
Belgium, Tel: +32-16-321232, Email:
2Dept. of Mechanical Engineering, University of Leuven, Heverlee, Belgium
3School of Mechanical Engineering, University of Leeds, LS2 9JT, UK

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To gain a better understanding and control of the Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) process, more fundamental and modeling work is needed. A simple analytical ray-tracing model has been developed to simulate the laser energy absorption and penetration in SLS. The model is applied to Fe-Cu and WC-Co powder mixtures, irradiated by Nd-YAG or CO2 laser. It gives an evaluation of the total energy incoupling and optical penetration of the laser beam in a powder bed as well as an estimation of the sintering zone dimensions. A reasonable correlation between experimental and simulated results is demonstrated. Another model, which considers heat flow by conduction in the bed, has also been used to estimate the sintering dimensions of one laser track.

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(c) Copyright 2001 Professor F.R. Hall - University of Wolverhampton.