Preliminary Investigation of Keyhole Phenomena during Single Layer Fabrication in Laser Additive Manufacturing of Stainless Steel
Laser additive manufacturing (LAM) is a fabrication technology that enables production of complex parts from metallic materials with mechanical properties comparable to conventionally manufactured parts. In the LAM process, parts are manufactured by melting metallic powder layer-by-layer with a laser beam. This manufacturing technology is nowadays called powder bed fusion (PBF) according to the ASTM F2792-12a standard. This strategy involves several different independent and dependent thermal cycles, all of which have an influence on the final properties of the manufactured part.The quality of PBF parts depends strongly on the characteristics of each single laser-melted track and each single layer. This study consequently concentrates on investigating the effects of process parameters such as laser power on single track and layer formation and laser-material interaction phenomena occurring during the PBF process. Experimental tests were done with two different machines: a modified research machine based on an EOS EOSINT M-series system and an EOS EOSINT M280 system. The material used was EOS stainless steel 17-4 PH. Process monitoring was done with an active illuminated high speed camera system. After microscopy analysis, it was concluded that a keyhole can form during laser additive manufacturing of stainless steel. It was noted that heat input has an important effect on the likelihood of keyhole formation. The threshold intensity value for keyhole formation of 106 W/cm2 was exceeded in all manufactured single tracks. Laser interaction time was found to have an effect on penetration depth and keyhole formation, since the penetration depth increased with increased laser interaction time. It was also concluded that active illuminated high speed camera systems are suitable for monitoring of the manufacturing process and facilitate process control.